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Singapore
 


Source and scope of regulations - 2013    

References
  • The Employment Act (Cap. 91) [EA] of 8 June 1968, as last amended by Act No. 12 of 2013 of 8 April 2013, effective since May 1st, 2013
    Date: 08 Apr 2013 (view in NATLEX »)
Scope
Size of enterprises excluded (≤): none
Workers' categories excluded: domestic workers; managerial / executive positions; seafarers
Remarks:
  • Sec. 2 EA: see definition of "employees":
    "employee" means a person who has entered into or works under a contract of service with an employer and includes a workman, and any officer or employee of the Government included in a category, class or description of such officers or employees declared by the President to be employees for the purposes of this Act or any provision thereof, but does not include:
    (a) any seaman;
    (b) any domestic worker;
    (c) subject to subsection (2), any person employed in a managerial or an executive position; and
    (d) any person belonging to any other class of persons whom the Minister may, from time to time by notification in the Gazette, declare not to be employees for the purposes of this Act."

Types of employment contracts - 2013    

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Maximum probationary (trial) period: no limitation

Remarks:
  • The EA does not refer to any probation period.
    However, it is common practice for employees to serve a 6 month-probationary period.
    See: http://www.guidemesingapore.com/employment/c288-employment-act-contract-and-benefits.htm

Fixed term contract (FTC):
  • FTC regulated: No
  • Valid reasons for FTC use: no limitation
    Remarks:
    • Sec. 9 (1) EA.
  • Maximum number of successive FTCs: no limitation
    Remarks:
    • No statutory limitation in the legislation reviewed.
  • Maximum cumulative duration of successive FTCs: no limitation
    Remarks:
    • No statutory limitation in the legislation reviewed.

Substantive requirements for dismissals (justified and prohibited grounds) - 2013    

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Obligation to provide reasons to the employee: No
Remarks:
  • The EA does not require the employer to provide the reasons for termination with notice: Sec. 10 (1) EA provides that either party may at any time give to the other party notice of his intention to terminate the contract.

    In addition, the EA does not expressly stipulate any obligation to provide the reasons when dismissing without notice (on the grounds of misconduct: sec. 14 EA), for continuous absence from work (sec. 13 (2)), or willful breach of a condition of the contract (sec. 11 (2) EA).


Valid grounds (justified dismissal): none
Remarks:
  • - No valid grounds are listed for termination with notice.
    According to sec. 10 (1) EA, either party to a contract of employment may at any time give to the other party notice of his/her intention to terminate the contract of employment.
    This does not result in a total freedom to terminate the contract: it must be understood in light of the existence of prohibited grounds.

    For summary dismissal, specific grounds are listed:
    See sec. 13 (2) EA (summary dismissal for unjustified absence from work) and sec. 14 EA (summary dismissal for misconduct).
    Sec. 14 (2) EA provides that dismissal on the grounds of misconduct shall be based on a just cause or excuse.

    Economic reasons: not listed as such as a valid ground for dismissal. They are mentioned in two provisions related to benefits arising from "dismissal on the grounds of redundancy or by reason of any reorganization of the employer's profession, business, trade or work": see sec. 45 EA (payment of retrenchment benefit) and 84A EA (maternity and right to benefit in case of dismissal for economic reasons).


Prohibited grounds: pregnancy; maternity leave; age; trade union membership and activities
Remarks:
  • * Age: sec. 4 (2) of Retirement Age Act 1993 (No. 14 of 1993) as amended by Act No. 49 of 1998 stipulates that "no employer shall dismiss on the ground of age any employee who is below 60 years of age or the prescribed retirement age".
    * Pregnancy and maternity leave: sec. 81, 84 and 84 EA.
    * Trade union activities: sec. 82 of the Industrial Relations Act (chap. 136) of 1960 as subsequently amended.


Workers enjoying special protection: pregnant women and/or women on maternity leave
Remarks:
  • See sec. 81, 84 and 84A EA.


Notes / Remarks
Under the Employment Act, either party to a contract of employment may at any time give to the other party notice of his/her intention to terminate the contract of employment (sec. 10 (1), EA).

In addition, summary dismissal (without notice) by the employer is possible when:
- the employee willfully breaches a condition of the employment contract (sec. 11 (2), EA);
- the employee is continuously absent from work, without leave or reasonable excuse, for more than two days (sec. 13 (2), EA); or
- the employee is found, after due inquiry, to be guilty of misconduct (sec. 14, EA).

Procedural requirements for individual dismissals - 2013    

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Notification to the worker to be dismissed: written

Remarks:
  • Sec. 10 (5) EA.

Notice period:
Remarks:
  • Notice periods are governed by the terms of the contract (sec. 10 (2) EA), and it is only in the absence of such a stipulation that the statutory notice periods apply.
    Sec. 10 (3) EA establishes statutory minimum notice periods as follows:
    - one day for less than 26 weeks' service;
    - one week for 26 weeks to less than two years' service;
    - two weeks for two to less than five years' service;
    - four weeks for five or more years' service.

    • tenure ≥ 6 months
      • 1 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 9 months
      • 1 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 2 years
      • 2 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 4 years
      • 2 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 5 years
      • 4 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 10 years
      • 4 week(s).
    • tenure ≥ 20 years
      • 4 week(s).

    Pay in lieu of notice: Yes

    Remarks:
    • Sec. 11 (1) EA.

    Notification to the public administration: No

    Notification to workers' representatives: No

    Approval by public administration or judicial bodies: No

    Approval by workers' representatives: No

    Procedural requirements for collective dismissals for economic reasons (redundancy, retrenchment) - 2013    

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    Definition of collective dismissal (number of employees concerned):
    No statutory definition.

    Prior consultations with trade unions (workers' representatives): No

    Notification to the public administration: No

    Notification to workers' representatives: No

    Approval by public administration or judicial bodies: No

    Approval by workers' representatives: No

    Priority rules for collective dismissals (social considerations, age, job tenure): No

    Employer's obligation to consider alternatives to dismissal (transfers, retraining...): No

    Priority rules for re-employment: No

    Notes / Remarks
    There is no statutory procedure for collective and individual dismissals on economic grounds.
    However the Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) have jointly issued a Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower in 2008, updated in 2009.
    Under the Tripartite Guidelines On Managing Excess Manpower, the employer is encouraged, in case of retrenchment, to consult with the trade union if the company is unionised. In addition, the employer should notify the Labour Relations Department and the Manpower Deployment Department of the Ministry of Manpower to help the affected workers find alternative employment expeditiously (link provided below under "scope of additional information").

    Severance pay and redundancy payment - 2013    

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    Severance pay:
    Remarks:
    • No provision on severance pay in the Employment Act.

      Notes / Remarks
      1) Dismissal not based on economic reasons: no statutory severance pay.
      2) Economic dismissal: no statutory redundancy payment.
      The EA only stipulates that employees with less than 3 years of service shall not be entitled to redundancy payment (art. 45 EA).
      According to the Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower (as updated in2009), the quantum of retrenchment payment for employees with 3 years of service is provided in the contract of work or the collective agreement, or subject to negotiation between employee and employer in the absence of such provision.
      The prevailing norm in practice is to pay a retrenchment benefit varying between 2 weeks to one month's salary per year of service. (§§ 29-30)

      Avenues for redress (penalties, remedies) and litigation procedure for individual complaints - 2013    

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      Compensation for unfair dismissal - free determination by court: Yes

      Remarks:
      • Sec. 14 (4) EA: If the Minister of Manpower considers the dismissal to be unfair, he may:
        1) order reinstatement and payment of wages the employee would have earned had he or she not been dismissed, or in lieu if reinstatement
        2) direct the employer to pay such amount of compensation as freely determined by the Minister.

      Reinstatement available: Yes

      Remarks:
      • Sec. 14 (4) a) EA: If after consideration of the Labour Commissioner's inquiry, the Minister of Labour is satisfied that the employee has been dismissed (on the grounds of misconduct) without "just cause or excuse", he may order reinstatement.

      Preliminary mandatory conciliation: No

      Remarks:
      • No statutory provision in the legislation reviewed.

      Competent court(s) / tribunal(s): administrative body

      Remarks:
      • An employee who considers that he or she has been summarily dismissed on the grounds of misconduct without just cause or excuse may, within one month of the dismissal and in writing, seek reinstatement (and/or compensation) from the Minister of Manpower (sec. 14 (2) EA. The decision of the Minister is final and cannot be challenged in any court (sec. 14(5), EA).


      Existing arbitration: No

      Notes / Remarks
      Claims of unfair dismissal (without just cause) dealt with in this section are only available to the employee in the event of a summary dismissal dismissal (for misconduct).

      In the event of any termination of the contract by the employer, the employee has the right to sue in the civil courts for breach of contract at common law.

      Source of additional information - 2013    

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      Links

      Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower (2008, updated in 2009) »
      Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower jointly issued by Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

      Background paper for the Tripartite Meeting of Experts to Examine the Termination of Employment Convention, 1982 (No. 158), and the Termination of Employment Recommendation, 1982 (No. 166), April 2011 »
      See the country study on employment termination legislation in Singapore: pp. 38-43.