Why is it important to know the law?
Foreign talent and workers of all kinds are drawn to cosmopolitan cities like Singapore for employment because of the high standards of work and quality working conditions available.
Singapore-based organisations therefore must take the time to understand the regulations that govern all employers and employees who work in Singapore to ensure that they hire and operate legally, and can continue to enjoy the benefits of business in the country.
SG labour laws cover everything from legal working hours and salary ranges for various roles or types of work, to hiring guidelines and work pass or visa application requirements, especially for foreigners.
In addition to the laws in place, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the government body in charge of labour and employment, also encourages all employers to have Contracts of Employment for all their workers. This adds greater security for both parties, as it delineates in more specific detail the obligations of each party to the other.
Employers who are found to be in infringement of the law in Singapore will bear the associated penalties and consequences. It is important to note that the MOM holds the employer - and not the employee or potential employee - responsible for fees and levies that may be incurred through incorrect or incomplete work pass applications and subsequent employment conditions in Singapore.
The Employment Act
The Employment Act is Singapore’s main labour law. This law lays out the terms and conditions that govern employees of different kinds in Singapore. The law also has certain exceptions, that is, types of employees that it does not cover; these exceptions are covered in other laws (more on this below).
The Employment Act contains the following key information:
Who it Covers
- The types of employees it protects - this includes full-time, part-time, temporary, and contract workers
- Types of employees it does not cover - this includes seafarers, domestic workers, statutory board employees, and civil servants
- The difference between “managers” or “executives” and “workmen” - this is important because certain portions of the act apply only to workmen, and not managers or executives
Guidelines on Employment
- Contracts of Services
- Payments and Salaries
- Hours of Work, Rest Days, and Other Conditions of Service
- Modes of Payment to Employees, or the “Truck System”
- Employment of Contractors, Part-time Employees, Domestic Workers, and Employment of Children and Young Persons
- Protections for Maternity and Childcare Leave
- Employee records & documentary requirements
- Inspection and Enquiry
- Complains, Claims, Penalties and other Regulations
Access and read the full law here.
Work Passes and Permits for Non-Local Employees
When it comes to foreign workers, employers are responsible for more than just their work set-up once they arrive in Singapore. Even before they arrive in the country, employers must apply for and secure a work pass or work permit for them. This pass or permit is their employment visa - the legal document that allows them to work in Singapore.
- Work Passes are issued to skilled workers who meet a particular minimum salary, as well as higher-tier workers such as managers, executives, and professionals. The Employment Pass, E Pass, or EP is a common type of work pass for managerial-level hires. Another common type of work pass is the S Pass, usually for foreign skilled workers who meet necessary eligibility criteria.
- Work permits on the other hand are issued to skilled and semi-skilled workers. Work Permits allow such foreign workers from a pre-approved list of countries to work in certain industries in Singapore, including construction, manufacturing, services, processing, and shipping.
For businesses that seek to hire and employ foreign workers through an Employment Pass in particular, let Veremark assist you. EP applications require that the applicants’ educational background and credentials be verified by accredited partners such as Veremark.
The Employment of Foreign Manpower Act
For these work pass or permit holders, it is the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA) that regulates and protects their well-being. This act prescribes key obligations and responsibilities of employers for their non-local employees:
Who it Covers
The EFMA covers organizations who employ foreign workers, and any person holding a legal work pass or work permit by the MOM.
Guidelines on Employing Foreign Workers
Work Passes and Permits
- Medical Insurance
- Cancellations and Repatriations
Specific requirements covering the following areas for foreign employees who are covered by the Employment Act:
- Hours of work, overtime and rest days
- Public holidays
- Annual and sick leaves
Common EFMA Offences and Penalties
As an employer in Singapore, you are responsible for compliant hiring and working conditions for all your hired workers, local and foreign.
Ensure that your organisation understands the necessary requirements to apply for work passes or permits, as well as legally employ workers at various levels within Singapore in compliance with the Ministry of Manpower’s regulations.
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