Find Employment Lawyers in Singapore

Last updated on November 29, 2018

Employment Law in Singapore

In Singapore, employment-related legal matters are primarily regulated by the Employment Act.

Here’s what your employment lawyer can do for you, and how you can go about finding an employment lawyer in Singapore.

What Your Employment Lawyer Can Do for You

Employment lawyers are lawyers well-versed in the employment practice and handle employment-related matters. Clients include both employees and employers. Here’s a list of services that your employment lawyer usually provides:

1. Drafting employment contracts

An employment contract stipulates the terms and conditions of employment and all other guidelines that frame the employee-employer relationship. Typical components of employment contracts include the hours of work, salary and bonuses, or special employment clauses such as non-compete clauses.

It is an important legal document for both the employer and employee, especially when an employee is hired. An employment lawyer is needed to draft the employment contract and include any specific terms (usually) stipulated by the employer. This is to ensure the legal preciseness of the contract, as well as for it to be as comprehensive as possible.

2. Hiring of foreign workers

The process of hiring foreign workers in Singapore is a multi-layered process, and could prove to be a hassle for business owners looking to hire them. Different application procedures and passes are required for different skill levels of the workers. Professionals may require an EntrePass for example, whereas mid-skilled workers require an S-pass. There are also procedures on the levies and quotas of foreign workers in different industries.

Your employment lawyer will be able to advise you on the most suitable procedure as you are looking to hire foreign workers. For instance, he/she will be able to determine if your prospective employee is covered by the Employment Act, and make adjustments to your employment contract if necessary.

Read our other article for more information on hiring foreign workers in Singapore.

3. Discrimination, harassment or any other wrongful treatment

There has been a rise in employees seeking litigation against their former employees for discrimination or harassment at the workplace, as reported by The Straits Times. The Protection against Harassment Act has stipulated that causing any harassment, distress or alarm to someone else, is punishable by law. This ranges from harmful words intentionally aimed at an employee, to sexual harassment at the workplace.

Singapore’s employment statutes with regard to anti-discrimination is not as developed as some other countries, with the exception of certain issues such as maternity leave. Hence legal action would likely involve common law actions on the obligations of employers, and could possibly involve other areas of law such as defamation.

Your employment lawyer will handle your case and advise you on your next course of action. He/she will run through your case with you and determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to, or if you should be reinstated into the company (in the event of wrongful termination).

4. Dispute resolution

Other sources of conflict between employees and employers include contractual disputes in the employment contract, unpaid salaries or overtime pay claims. Common points of contention include the presence of a non-compete clause, where employees feel that it has been harshly imposed, and terms and conditions are such that they are unable to work anywhere else. Parties usually seek litigation once the problem to a stage where no compromise can be made, or when both parties are no longer on talking terms.

In this case, your employment lawyer will then determine the best way to resolve any contractual disputes, and the amount of compensation payable to you. For cases of unpaid salaries, not only will employers have to pay their employees, a penalty may be imposed on them depending on how long they have unfairly withheld their employees’ salaries.

What to Look Out for in Your Employment Lawyer

After all the distress of employee-employer dealings or even trauma at the workplace, the last thing you would want is to be worrying about legal proceedings with your employment lawyer. Ultimately, you should choose an employment lawyer who takes responsibility for your cause and is committed to lifting your burden of employment-related distress.

Finding a good employment lawyer is very similar to finding a good corporate lawyer in Singapore, since they merely differ in their area of specialisation. Here is a non-exhaustive list of what you should look out for when hiring your employment lawyer:

1. Size of law firm

The scale and complexity of your case will help to determine whether you should hire your employment lawyer from a big or small firm. For more complex cases such as employees who are contracted to the parent company in one country and the subsidiary in another country, a bigger law firm would be more suitable due to their resources at hand. For simpler cases such as drafting an employment contract or hiring foreign workers, a smaller law firm may suffice.

2. Competency and level of experience

While all lawyers who specialise in employment practice are definitely adequately trained to handle your case, not all lawyers have the same level of experience.

When choosing your employment lawyer, there is no harm asking if your lawyer has handled such cases before and what his/her rate of success was. Even within the employment practice, there are different sectors such as harassment, discrimination or wrongful termination among many others. It is important to be clear of what your lawyer’s specialisation is in to ensure that his/her strengths are tailored to your case.

3. Communication and commitment

Finding a good employment lawyer whom you can communicate well with is also important for your case. Your employment lawyer will have to show that he/she is willing to assume responsibility for your cause, if you have been a victim of unlawful treatment.

Even if you are hiring him/her to draft an employment contract for you, a competent employment lawyer who is willing to provide you with further legal advice with regard to the Employment Act for example, stands out as compared to one who is merely a service provider.

4. Fee structure

As per choosing a lawyer in general, you should always be sure of how the lawyer charges and what is the most ideal arrangement for your case. Be clear of whether a retainer fee is involved, or whether you are paying a flat fee or an hourly rate.

How to Find an Employment Lawyer

Many law firms in Singapore offer services in employment practice, leaving you with a wide array of options to choose from. Reviews from your peers who have hired employment lawyers previously, or from other lawyers themselves, is one way for you to have a sensing of the lawyer’s competency and working relationship with his/her clients.

SingaporeLegalAdvice also provides a platform where you can find an employment lawyer, and each lawyer comes with his/her reviews (if any) from previous clients.

Choosing your Employment Lawyer

Lawyers are your fiduciaries and are expected to act in good faith in representing you, this is not unique to just employment lawyers. While the area of litigation in employment practice can be a period of distress and burden for many individuals, finding a competent employment lawyer whom you can trust will go a long way in ensuring that your case is resolved quickly and satisfactorily.