Know your rights – A summarized guide to the Employment Act

Man guiding employee through contract

Who is covered under the Employment Act?

The Employment Act (the “Act”) is the main labour legislation in Singapore that provides for the working conditions and basic protections for all types of employees. It covers both local and foreign employees, who are full-time, part-time, temporary, or contract workers, so long as the employee is working under a contract of service (and not a contract for service) with an employer.

Notwithstanding the broad application of the Act, there are some groups of people who are not covered under the Act. These are seafarers, domestic workers, and statutory board employees or civil servants. Part time workers who work less than 35 hours a week are also covered under a separate legislation known as the Employment of Part-Time Employees Regulations.

Some key provisions to take note of

  • Payment of Salary: Salary must be paid within seven days after the end of the salary period.
  • Paid annual leave: Between 7 to 14 days per year, depending on length of employment. Applies so long that the employee has served for at least 3 months.
  • Paid sick leave: 14 days per year, and up to 60 days per year if hospitalisation is necessary. Applies so long that the employee has served for at least 6 months.
  • Termination
    • The employment contract may be terminated with notice, or payment of salary in lieu of notice.
    • The notice period is generally set out in the employment contract. In the absence of such provision, the required notice period is set out in the Act.
    • Length of notice period must be the same for both the employer and employee.
    • The employment contract may only be terminated without notice if there is a wilful breach by either employer / employee of the contract, such as if:
      • The employer fails to pay salary within seven days of it being due.
      • The employee is absent from work continuously for more than 2 working days without approval and a reasonable excuse for the absence, or without informing and attempting to inform the employer of the reason for such absence.
      • The employee has conducted an act of misconduct (do note that the employer should conduct an inquiry before deciding whether to dismiss the employee, or to take alternative forms of disciplinary action).

What is important about the Act and what it means to you?

The provisions which we have highlighted above are just a snippet, and there are many other regulations in the Act which employers must comply with.

The onus is on the employer to comply with the regulations under the Act. If the Act applies, and a term in the employment contract is less favourable than the terms prescribed by the Act, such term is illegal and void to the extent that it is so less favourable. Furthermore, the failure of an employer to comply with certain provisions under the Act will constitute an offence which can result in fines or even jail time. Additionally, the Ministry of Manpower also uploads a list of employers convicted for offences under the Act publicly on its website. As such, it is important for employers to ensure that its employment terms and practices are in compliance with the laws of Singapore.

As an employee, it is crucial that you know your rights under the Act.

If you have an employment-related query or wish to assess or know more about your organisation’s compliance with the employment laws in Singapore, please feel free to contact us.

For further information, please contact:

Tio Siaw Min


JTJB Singapore Office
E : siawmin@jtjb.com
T : 6220 9388