What you need to know about the amended Employment Act

The Employment Act governs Singapore’s employment law, stipulating the basic working conditions employers and employees have to follow. It is vital for employers to know about the recent amendments to the Employment Act, as set out in the Employment (Amendment) Act 2015. These are the crucial changes employers should implement in their businesses.

Itemised Pay Slips

First, employers will have to provide itemised payslips for all their employees. They have the choice to issue this in hard copy or soft copy, as long as the soft copy is accessible and useable by the employee if he wishes to subsequently refer to it. These pay slips must be accurate and complete. If an employer fails to give his employee a pay slip within the time prescribed for giving pay slips, he will have to pay a penalty. This is set out in the Employment Act in section 96(4) and section 126B. However, the employer has the choice of consolidating payslips into a monthly payslip.

Key Employment Terms

It is mandatory for employers to provide the Key Employment Terms (KETs) in writing to employees who work for at least 14 days continuously. The common terms can be provided in the company’s employee handbook or website, as long as it is readily accessible by workers. A few required key employment terms would be the employee’s working arrangements such as his daily working hours and number of working days per week, along with the basic salary per period. The complete requirements for the key employment terms are given in this link: http://www.mom.gov.sg/~/media/mom/documents/press-releases/2015/0817-annex-b-employment-amendment-bill.pdf.

The changes regarding itemised payslips and KETs will be effective from 1 April 2016.

Non-criminal infringements of the Employment Act

The Act also allows the Ministry of Manpower to treat the less severe breaches as non-criminal infringements, which are liable for an administrative penalty instead. This means that these breaches will not lead to a criminal record, unlike the current situation, where all breaches of the Employment Act are considered criminal breaches. These less severe breaches include: failure to issue itemised payslips; failure to issue KETs in writing; failure to maintain detailed employment records; failure to provide accurate information to the Commissioner for Labour or inspecting officers without the intent to defraud or mislead. Mr Lim Swee Say, the Minister for Manpower, has mentioned in the Second Reading of the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2015, that such administrative penalties will range from $100 to $200 per occurrence. The Act stipulates that such penalties will not exceed $1,000 for the first time an employer fails to comply with the act, and will not exceed $2,000 for any subsequent failures.

Taking of leave

Lastly, the amended Act makes it clear that no employees can take paid childcare leave on a day that they take no-pay leave. Also, employers are required to pay their employees holiday rates of pay or give them a day off if they have to work on public holidays and even non-scheduled public holidays declared by the government, such as polling days and the SG50 Public Holiday.

Enforcement of the new Act

Companies should start implementing these changes by April 2016. However, it is noted that the Ministry of Manpower will take a light touch enforcement approach from April 2016 to end-March 2017, as stated by the Minister of Manpower in the Second Reading of the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2015. Nonetheless, companies should still implement these changes as soon as possible, to avoid any potential administrative penalties.