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Employee Rights

General Rights

Employment agreement

It is not mandatory to have a written employment contract in Singapore. However, employers must provide employees with a written description of their primary duties and responsibilities within 14 days from the start of employment. The document must include the following information:

  • Employer and employee's full name
  • Starting date
  • Job title and primary duties and responsibilities
  • Details of the employment period, notably for fixed-term agreements
  • Working hours
  • Probation period, if any
  • Remuneration
  • Base salary and payday
  • Fixed allowances and deductions
  • Bonuses, if any
  • Overtime rate pay, if any
  • Benefits, such as medical and dental insurance
  • Leave entitlements, including holidays and annual leave
  • Termination procedure and notice period

Payslip

Payslips should be provided when issuing payments to employees, at the latest three working days after payment. Employers must provide employees with an itemized payslip each month, including all of the following unless not applicable to the employee:

  • Full name of employer and employee
  • Date of payment and start and end date of each salary period
  • Basic salary and rate of pay, the total number of hours worked
  • Allowances paid, such as fixed allowances and ad-hoc allowances
  • Additional payments, such as bonuses, rest day pay and public holiday pay
  • Deductions made, such as fixed deductions and ad-hoc deductions (itemization of every deduction)
  • Overtime pay and hours worked, including start and end date of the overtime pay period
  • Net salary paid for the month and date of payment

Health & Safety

The Workplace Safety and Health Act require employers to take reasonable measures to ensure employees' safety and health. They have to reduce the risks of potential hazards in the workplace.

Employers are required to:

  • Assess the risk for any potential hazards and implement effective risk control measures
  • Make sure the work environment is safe
  • Put adequate safety measures in place for any equipment or process at the workplace
  • Create processes and systems for emergencies situations
  • Provide adequate instruction, training and supervision to employees so they can work safely

The act imposes higher penalties for poor safety management and outcomes.

The Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA): an employer must compensate an employee if the employee sustains an injury by accident in the course of their employment. An employer must also maintain insurance against all liabilities that it might incur under the WICA.

Flexible working

Flexible working is not a statutory right in Singapore but has been gaining traction in the country, which has led the government to create the Tripartite Advisory on Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs). The set of guidelines encourages employers to offer employees flexibility and gives guidance on how to implement them. It also educates employees how to request flexible work and what their responsibilities are.

Flexible work can take the form of Flexi-time, Flexi-load or Flexi-place. Employers are encouraged to appoint a senior manager to oversee FWAs, allow employees to request for flexibility, evaluate and communicate all applications fairly and objectively.

 

Protections

Protection against dismissal

The Singapore Employment Act protects employees in Singapore from unfair dismissal. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) lists the following as wrongful dismissals:

  • Discriminatory grounds of religion, descent or place of birth of Singapore citizens
  • Age, if the employee is younger than 62
  • Race, but only against Singapore citizens and limited to those employed by public authorities
  • Female employees on maternity leave
  • Singapore citizens or male permanent residents undertaking national service
  • In order to deprive an employee of benefits or entitlements
  • As punishment for exercising an employment right

Protection from harassment in the workplace

The Protection from Harassment Act prohibits an employer from threatening, abusing or insulting its employee, but places no specific obligations on employers to prevent harassment in the workplace. An employee subject to such conduct can seek a civil remedy from the court. Moreover, the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Workplace Harassment sets out the following recommendations for employers (not mandatory, but widely adhered by employers):

  • Develop a harassment prevention policy
  • Provide information and training on workplace harassment
  • Implement reporting and response procedures

Protection from discrimination

Article 12 of the Constitution is the only legislation that provides for the equal treatment of all Singaporean citizens on religion, race, descent or place of birth grounds. There are no specific laws protecting employees from discrimination based on gender, race or disability.

The Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP Guidelines) state that employers should not make age, race and marital status an employment requirement. While the TAFEP Guidelines do not have the force of law, employers in Singapore observe and comply with them. In addition, the Ministry of Manpower states it views non-adherence to the TAFEP Guidelines seriously and that employers who post discriminatory job advertisements will have their work pass privileges revoked.

Whistleblower protection

Singapore has no specific legislation on protection for whistleblowers. However, employees are protected when reporting employer offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Personal information protection

Under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA), the employer must obtain the employees' consent for any collection, use or disclosure, unless an exemption applies. Companies must comply with the standards set out in the PDPA including:

  • Collecting, using and disclosing personal data only with the individual's knowledge and consent
  • Collecting, using and appropriately disclosing personal data for the circumstances
  • Collecting, using and disclosing personal data for purposes that would be considered appropriate to a reasonable person in the given circumstances

Employees can withdraw their actual or deemed consent about the employer's collection, use or disclosure of their data at any time.

Protection in the case of business transfer

In a business undertaking, employees covered under the Employment Act are automatically transferred to the transferee, preserving their employment continuity. The employment terms remain the same. However, the transferee can harmonise the employment terms with the terms of the transferee's existing employees, as long as the transferring employee consents.

Employees covered by the Employment Act have the right to be notified of a business transfer that affects them to consult with the transferor. Apart from this, employees do not have a statutory right of consultation about significant transactions that might affect them.

Any dispute or disagreement between the transferor or transferee and an employee can be referred to the Labour Commissioner. The general provisions about protection against dismissal also apply. Apart from this, there is no statutory protection against dismissal before or after a business transfer.

Probation period

There is no statutory requirement for the length of probation periods. However, it is common to agree to a probation period of 3 to 6 months, during which the notice period is shorter. Regardless of the length of the probation period, entitlements kick in after three months of service.

Job Security

Union

Employees have the right to join a union or not, and employers cannot influence their decision.

This page was last updated on 26th January, 2021. If you have questions about this page, send us an email.