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Singapore
 


Source and scope of regulations - 2019    

References
  • The Employment Act (Cap. 91) [EA] of 8 June 1968, as consolidated in April 2016.
    Date: 01 Apr 2016; view website » (view in NATLEX »)
  • Trade Unions Act (Cap. 333). (view in NATLEX »)
  • Industrial Relations Act (Cap. 136) (view in NATLEX »)
Scope
Size of enterprises excluded (≤): none
Workers' categories excluded: domestic workers; managerial / executive positions; seafarers

Notes / Remarks
The tripartite partners – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) - have jointly issued a Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower in 2008. It was revised in 2017 as "Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment" (Available at: https://www.mom.gov.sg/~/media/mom/documents/employment-practices/guidelines/tripartite-advisory-on-managing-excess-manpower-and-responsible-retrenchment.pdf?la=en).


Types of employment contracts - 2019    

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Maximum probationary (trial) period (in months): no limitation

Fixed term contract (FTC):
  • FTC regulated: No
  • Valid reasons for FTC use: no limitation
  • Maximum number of successive FTCs: no limitation
  • Maximum cumulative duration of successive FTCs: no limitation

Substantive requirements for dismissals (justified and prohibited grounds) - 2019    

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Obligation to provide reasons to the employee: No

Valid grounds (justified dismissal): none

Prohibited grounds: pregnancy; maternity leave; age; trade union membership and activities

Workers enjoying special protection: pregnant women and/or women on maternity leave

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 - 2019    

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Notification to the worker to be dismissed: written

Notice period:
    • 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

    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) - 2019    

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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 tripartite partners – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) - have jointly issued a Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower in 2008. It was revised in 2017 as "Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment" (Available at: https://www.mom.gov.sg/~/media/mom/documents/employment-practices/guidelines/tripartite-advisory-on-managing-excess-manpower-and-responsible-retrenchment.pdf?la=en) and reads as follows:
    - Para. 3: Employers facing structural changes "should consider alternative ways of managing their local manpower where possible. These could include upskilling employees and redesigning jobs" and employers are "encouraged to consult the unions, business associations and employees about these changes";
    - Para. 7: If the company is unionised, the relevant union(s) should be consulted as early as possible. Where it is provided in the collective agreement, the norm is one month before notifying the employee;
    - Para 5.: When carrying out a retrenchment exercise, the selection of employees for retrenchment should be conducted fairly, based on objective criteria such as the ability of the employee to contribute to the company’s future business needs. Employers should not discriminate against any particular group on grounds of age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibility, or disability. For instance, older, re-employed as well as pregnant employees should not be unfairly targeted;
    - Para. 15: Responsible employers are encouraged to adopt a longer retrenchment notice period when compared to the normal termination of employment contract, or to pay in lieu of such notice;
    - Para. 17. Employees with 2 years’ service or more are eligible for retrenchment benefits. Those with less than 2 years’ service could be granted an ex-gratia payment.

    Severance pay and redundancy payment - 2019    

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    Severance pay:
    • tenure ≥ 6 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 9 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 1 year: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 2 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 4 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 5 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 10 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 20 years: 0 month(s)
    Redundancy payment:
    • tenure ≥ 6 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 9 months: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 1 year: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 2 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 4 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 5 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 10 years: 0 month(s)
    • tenure ≥ 20 years: 0 month(s)

    Notes / Remarks
    1) Dismissal not based on economic reasons: no statutory severance pay.
    2) Economic dismissal: no statutory redundancy payment for employees with less than two years of service (art. 45 EA).

    According to the 2017 Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment:
    - Para.17: Employees with 2 years’ service or more are eligible for retrenchment benefits. Those with less than 2 years’ service could be granted an ex-gratia payment.
    - Para. 18: The quantum of retrenchment benefit depends on what is provided for in the collective agreement or contract of service. If there is no provision, the quantum is to be negotiated between the employees (via their union in the case of a unionised company) and the employer concerned.
    - Para. 19: The prevailing norm is to pay a retrenchment benefit varying between 2 weeks to 1 month salary per year of service, depending on the financial position of the company and taking into consideration the industry norm. However, in unionised companies where the quantum of retrenchment benefit is stipulated in the collective agreement, the norm is one month’s salary for each year of service.
    - Para. 20: If the retrenchment exercise follows shortly after a wage cut, the salary prior to the wage cut should be used to compute the retrenchment benefit, so that cuts are not implemented just to reduce retrenchment payments.

    Avenues for redress (penalties, remedies) and litigation procedure for individual complaints - 2019    

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    Compensation for unfair dismissal - free determination by court: Yes

    Reinstatement available: Yes

    Preliminary mandatory conciliation: No

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

    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 - 2019    

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    Links

    2017 Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment »
    Jointly agreed guidelines by the tripartite partners – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

    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.