Singapore: Amendments To The Singapore Employment Act - Tips For Japanese Companies

Last Updated: 13 November 2018
Article by Eng Leng Ng and Mariko Nakagawa

Amendments to the Singapore Employment Act

The Employment Act (Act) governs a relationship between an employer and an employee, including the terms of employment, rights and obligations on both parties. It was enacted in 1968 and amended several times. The current Act has limited application, especially for executives, professionals and managers (PMEs). They are precluded from the application of the Act (save junior PMEs who are protected by meeting certain requirements) and their relationships are governed by contract where the Act does not apply. Given the employment landscape changes over the years, PMEs make up almost half of the Singaporean workforce today. The amendments will extend the scope of application of the Act to all core employees including PMEs to provide them with minimum legal protection with respect to the conditions of work. Additional 430,000 PMEs will be covered by the Act after the amendments are implemented.

This article will introduce the key changes in relation to the PMEs with respect to leave and dispute resolution as well as provide insights for Japanese subsidiaries in Singapore in terms of compliance with the amended Act.

(1) Paid statutory leave for PMEs

The amended Act will apply to all employees including PMEs (excluding seamen, domestic workers and others, which are the same exclusions in the current Act) and the paid leave entitlements under the current Act would be extended to cover PMEs. The statutory leave entitlements applicable to the PMEs include:

  1. 7 days' paid annual leave (deleted from Part IV and set out under Part X).
  2. 11 days' paid public holidays.
  3. 14 days' paid sick leave (out-patient).
  4. 60 days' paid hospitalisation leave (inclusive of 14 days' medical leave).
  5. Maternity leave and childcare leave under the Act. (Parents of a Singaporean citizen child will be protected under the separate Act).

However, the provisions in Part IV of the Act would not apply to certain employees/PMEs because this part would only apply to those who earn monthly wages not exceeding S$2,600 (for non-workmen; threshold increased by S$100) or S$4,500 (for workmen) respectively. Part IV includes the basic welfare of employees and conditions of employment, and importantly, the hours of work, shift work and overtime payment as well as entitlement to retrenchment benefits. The PMEs would not be eligible for the Part IV benefits unless they earn less than S$2,600 or specific conditions are provided in their contract.

(2) Terms relating to salary payment

The other provisions under the current Act which are not under Part IV will also be extended to cover the PMEs, including the rules relating to timely payment of salary, calculation formula for daily wage rate and pro-rata, provision of an itemised payslip and written key employment terms.

(3) Dispute resolutions

Under the current Act, aggrieved PMEs who need help with respect to wrongful dismissal or non-payment of salary have no choice but to go to the court as they are not eligible to apply for their claims to be heard by the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT), which will incur lower legal costs than litigation (provided all other general eligibility requirements are met). Under the amended Act, such PMEs will have access to the ECT.

(4) Checklist for the Japanese companies

Under the current Act, many Japanese expatriates are not covered by the Act as they are mostly executives earning more than S$4,500 per month. However, the amended Act will capture all PMEs, including Japanese or any foreign expatriates, too. There is no specific or general exclusion provided for foreign employees under the current and amended Act.

If the Singapore subsidiary of a Japanese company adopts the Japanese terms of employment for their expatriates working in Singapore without any local modification, it may have to review and customise the local terms in order to comply with new Singapore's statutory requirements. For example, the standard Japanese employment terms do not provide for paid sick leave as it is not mandatory in Japan. That will not comply with the amended Act and hence will be illegal in Singapore.

Many Japanese subsidiaries hire Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents who are PMEs, too. Although the current Act does not apply to them, their existing employment contracts may have already provided them with equivalent paid leave for the local employees as the statutory leave looks fairly standard. However, Japanese companies should also check if other leave related conditions under the Act are met, such as the payment of unconsumed annual leave on termination of employment (other than dismissal cases) and formula for calculating such payment, i.e. gross rate of pay as prescribed by the Act.

Japanese companies that wish to introduce paid statutory leave (including related conditions as set out above) for PMEs should also introduce appropriate internal rules and procedures, which are clear and practical. It is to prevent such entitlements from being abused, misunderstood by employees or the management. For example, under the Act a medical certificate issued by an employer appointed medical practitioner must be produced for any paid sick/hospitalisation leave taken. Japanese managers may not be familiar with such a certificate as it is uncommon in Japan. Japanese companies are therefore advised to have internal rules, including a list of the company's panel doctors, when and whom leave application should be submitted/approved/recorded and procedures of medical reimbursement. Expenses for medical fees should be borne by the employer for the taking of sick leave under the Act.

Japanese companies are advised to prepare themselves to ensure that their terms of employment applicable to their Japanese expatriates and local PMEs will meet the statutory requirements. Non-compliance will attract penalties. The existing employment contract and/or handbook, including their procedures, may have to be reviewed in order to ensure the compliance with the amended Act. The Bill was introduced on 2 October 2018 and will be implemented by April 2019.

For full Japanese article, please click here.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions