The Singapore employment legal system is comprised of employment legislation and common law principles. In addition, guidelines and advisories from the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (“TAFEP”) (consisting of the Ministry of Manpower, National Trade Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation) are highly persuasive. Employment-related claims in Singapore can be heard in the Employment Claims Tribunal, State Courts of Singapore and the Supreme Court of Singapore.
- The Employment Act is Singapore’s main piece of employment law legislation and provides for the basic terms and working conditions for employees.
- All employees (whether foreign or local) are covered by the Employment Act, except for seafarers, domestic workers and statutory board employees or civil servants.
- Singapore is an at-will employment jurisdiction.
- Minimum salary levels are not prescribed by legislation and therefore, there is generally no minimum wage in Singapore, except for a progressive wage model which applies to certain employees in certain sectors.
- A social security scheme called the Central Provident Fund is mandatory for Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents.
The key employment legislation in Singapore is the Employment Act of Singapore, which applies to foreign nationals and Singapore residents who are under a contract of service with an employer in Singapore, except for seafarers, domestic workers, statutory board employees and civil servants. This means that employment contracts between employers and applicable employees would need to meet the minimum standards prescribed under the Employment Act. Part IV of the Employment Act, which provides for rest days, hours of work and other conditions of service, only applies to: a workman (doing manual labour) earning a basic monthly salary of not more than S$4,500; and a non-workman employee earning a basic monthly salary of not more than S$2,600. Managers and executives are generally not covered under Part IV of the Employment Act.
There have been a number of recent changes to the Work Injury Compensation Act of Singapore. This includes changes to the compensation and medical expenses limits, coverage of mandatory insurance to certain employees, expansion of the scope of compensation and strengthening reporting obligations. In addition, to further support employment opportunities of Singaporeans, there has been an increase in the minimum salary requirements for work pass application for foreign employees.