FAQ The Singapore Employment Act

Here are some frequently asked rarely answered questions about the Singapore Employment Act.  By our in-house Singapore Employment Law expert Mr Chia Boon Cher, taken from his book the Practical Guide to the Singapore Employment Act for Good HR Practices.

Changing employment terms
Q: Can an employer change a worker’s terms and conditions of work in the course of employment?
A: The employer cannot change the terms and conditions of employment, unless the worker agrees to it. Without such an agreement, it would amount to a breach of contract.

Confirmation of employment
Q: When is a worker deemed to be confirmed?
A: There is no provision in the Employment Act on the conditions for the confirmation of a worker in  his job. A worker’s confirmation will depend on the terms spelt out in the employment contract. The length of a worker’s service is calculated from the date on which the worker starts work and not from the date of confirmation.

Rest days for shift workers
Q: How are rest days granted to shift workers?
A: For shift workers, the rest day can be a continuous period of 30 hours. A 30-hour rest period which commences before 6 pm on a Sunday will be considered as having been granted a rest day within the week even though the 30-hour period will be extended into the next week i.e. on Monday. However, it cannot be extended to Tuesday. That is why the rest day must commence before 6 pm on Sunday.

Encashment of child care leave
Q: Can unused child care leave be encashed?
A: No,  unused child care leave at the end of the yearly entitlement period will lapse and cannot be encashed. Similarly, unclaimed childcare leave is forfeited if the worker’s service is terminated for whatever reason. Employer should encourage their workers to clear their child care leave before taking annual leave.

Eligibility for maternity leave
Q: What are the criteria for maternity leave?
A: Under the Employment Act, an employer is required to pay the first 8 weeks leave if the female worker satisfies the following qualifying conditions:
She has been employed for at least 90 days before the date of delivery
She has less than 2 children of her own at the time of delivery. In the case of multiple births (e.g. twins, triplets etc) during the first confinement, the employer is still required to pay the next 8 weeks of paid maternity leave for the second confinement.

Payment in kind
Q: Can wages be paid in kind?

A: No. All wages must be paid in legal tender but en employer can offer his workers food, quarters, allowances or privileges, in addition to wages.

Notice of termination
Q: Must notice be given in writing?

A: Notice of termination must be given in writing. The day on which the notice is given shall be included in the notice period.

Refusal to allow employee to leave
Q: Can an employer reject a worker’s resignation?

A: No. The worker has the right to resign at any time by serving the required  notice or by compensating the employer salary in-lieu of notice. Under Section 108 of the Employment Act, failure of the employer to allow a worker to leave his service is an offence. The employer shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.

Why do I need Employment Act training?

Because there are many hard questions left unanswered . There employment law area  is a mine field that only HR practitioners armed with an understanding of  the law can safely navigate.

Quick Employment Act Quiz

Do you know?

  1. What are the implications if a person is classified under a “contract for service” compared to a “contract of service”?
  2. If an applicant signs the letter of employment but subsequently  informs you that he does not intend to start and does not turn up for work, what action can you take against him?
  3. Can I offer an employee higher starting pay in lieu of overtime claim?
  4. What can an employee do if the employer fails to pay salary on time?
  5. Can I ask my staff to work on split shift or 12-hour shift?
  6. What must I do before dismissing a worker for misconduct?

How did you score?
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