Labour Inspection Country Profile: SINGAPORE
Name of institution that manager work issues
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is responsible for labour and employment issues.
Department(s) responsible for Labour Inspection
The labour inspection system is placed under the authority of the Commissioner of Labour and the Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Heath, who are appointed by the Minister for Manpower. Labour inspection is primarily divided into (i) labour relations and employment matters- with the Labour Relations and Workplaces Division (LRWD) looking into matters such as hours of work, timely payment of salaries, provisions of employment benefits and other working terms and conditions, and (ii) occupational safety and health matters under the purview of the Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHD).
In addition to LRWD and OSHD, the MOM has another inspection unit, the Foreign Manpower Management Division (FMMD), which focuses solely on foreign manpower issues.
Laws that cover organization and function
- Employment Act
- Workplace Safety and Health Act 2006 (Act 7 of 2006)
Scope of Labour Inspection
Labour inspectors supervise the enforcement of labour laws, administrative regulations and collective agreements. The Labour Relations and Workplace Division conducts regular inspections on business establishments including commercial and industrial workplaces to ensure compliance with the employment benefits, terms and conditions and regulations stipulated in the Employment Act. The OSH Inspectorate conducts inspections, surveillance of workplaces and enforces the law when necessary, to ensure that workplaces maintain an acceptable level of safety and health standards. The Inspectorate also investigates accidents and lessons learnt from accidents are shared with the industry. Activities of the Occupational Safety and Health inspectors range from conducting workplace inspections, investigating workplace accidents, providing compliance assistance, conducting research, outreach, promotional and collaboration activities with local and international partners.
There are no decentralized/territorial structures.
Programming and communication
There is no cooperation or coordination between the MOSAL and the GCSI concerning inspection.
Permanency of inspectors
Labour inspectors are civil servants.
Selection process, background required and training
Safety and heath officers are appointed by the Commissioner of Workplace Safety and Health. Candidates need to pass an interview and a written assessment along with up to 3 months of initial training followed by on-going training in the course of work.
Labour inspectors are required to hold a diploma degree.
Labour inspectors have the power to enter without previous notice at any hour of day or night any workplace or premises liable to inspection.
Role of preventive measures
The MOM has found a promotional and educational approach to be more effective in curbing infringements of the Employment Act. Hence apart from taking enforcement action, labour inspectors also render counselling and advisory services to employers and employees. To increase employers' awareness of the minimum terms and conditions for employment, labour inspectors also conduct regular lecture on the Employment Act. Although these lectures are open to all employers, the target audience is particularly employers from the small and medium size companies with limited knowledge in the Employment Act as well as those found to have infringed the Act. Promotional activities, seminars, workshops are organized all year round to create interest, promote awareness and share best practices on OSH. One of the focuses of the Labour Relations and Workplaces is the promotion of awareness of employers' and employees' rights and obligations under the law, and good workplace practices such as Work-Life Strategy. The division supports capability development through the “WOW! Fund”, a $10 million fund that helps organisations absorb the upfront costs of introducing work-life strategies at the workplace. In addition, the division works with key partners like the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports; the National Trades Union Congress, the Singapore National Employers Federation and the Employer Alliance on Work and Family to promote the importance and relevance of Work-Life Strategy in Singapore. Other promotional efforts include assisting the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices to encourage the adoption of fair and responsible employment practices, through seminars, guidelines and other means.
Each inspector is required to submit to the director his daily plan prior to departing the office on inspection visits. The plan specifies the geographical sector that will be inspected without a need to specify any enterprise.
The law requires that data on occupational accidents, diseases and health status of workers is communicated to the labour inspectorate.
In Labour inspectors in case of non-compliance with the legislation will issue a minute/act/order, and in case implementation or correction of the situation is not foreseen, they will file a case with the court.
Inspectors can take immediate measures when they have every reason to believe that there is an imminent and serious danger to the health or safety of the workers, including temporarily ceasing operations.
When employers are dissatisfied with decisions made by labour inspectors they are granted the right to appeal such decision.
Convention No. 81 was ratified in 1994 but Convention No. 129 has not been ratified.