Employment Act (Brief)

Employment Act

Who it covers

All employees under a contract of service with an employer are covered, but there are exceptions. For example, Part IV of the Act which provides for rest days, hours of work, annual leave and other conditions of service, does not cover managers or executives.

What is the Employment Act

The Employment Act is Singapore’s main labour law. It provides for the basic terms and conditions at work for employees covered by the Act. Visit for details at: https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/EmA1968

  • Note:
  • Foreign employees holding a work pass are also covered by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, which outlines an employer’s responsibilities and obligations for employing foreigners.

Who is covered by the Act

You are covered if you are an employee working under a contract of service with an employer.
It covers local and foreign employees.
An employee can be employed in the following terms:

  • Full-time
  • Part-time
  • Temporary
  • Contract

An employee can be paid on the following basis:

  • Hourly
  • Daily
  • Monthly
  • Piece-rated

If you work less than 35 hours a week, you are a part-time employee covered by the Employment of Part-Time Employees Regulations.
However, you are not covered if you are employed as a:

  • Manager or executive with monthly basic salary of more than $4,500.
  • Seafarer.
  • Domestic worker.
  • Statutory board employee or civil servant.

If you are not covered by the Employment Act, your terms and conditions of employment will be according to your employment contract.

Who is covered under Part IV

Part IV of the Employment Act, which provides for rest days, hours of work, annual leave and other conditions of service, only applies to:

  • A workman (doing manual labour) earning a basic monthly salary of not more than $4,500.
  • An employee who is not a workman, but who is covered by the Employment Act and earns a monthly basic salary of not more than $2,500.

Part IV of the Act does not cover all managers or executives.
Basic salary excludes payment of overtime, bonus, annual wage supplement, productivity incentive payment, reimbursement for special expenses and all allowances.

Who is a manager or executive

In general, managers and executives are employees with executive and supervisory functions.
Their duties and authority may include one or all of the following:

  • Making decisions on issues such as recruitment, discipline, termination of employment, performance assessment and reward.
  • Formulating strategies and policies of the enterprise.
  • Managing and running the business.

They also include professionals with tertiary education and specialised knowledge or skills whose employment terms are like those of managers or executives. For example:

  • Advocates and solicitors.
  • Chartered accountants.
  • Practising doctors and dentists.

Who is a workman

Generally, workman is someone whose work involves mainly manual labour.
This includes someone who falls under any of these categories:

  • Does manual work (including artisans and apprentices, but not seafarers or domestic workers).
  • Operates or maintains commercial vehicles with passengers.
  • Supervises manual workers, but also performs manual work more than half their working time.
  • Has a job specified in the First Schedule of the Employment Act, namely:
    • Cleaner.
    • Construction worker.
    • Labourer.
    • Machine operator and assembler.
    • Metal and machinery worker.
    • Train, bus, lorry and van driver.
    • Train and bus inspector.
    • Workman employed at piece rates at an employer’s premises.


Amendments to the Employment Act

From 1 April 2019, the Employment Act will be amended to cover all employees. Wrongful dismissal claims will be heard by the ECTinstead of by MOM.
From 1 April 2019, there will be changes to the Employment Act. The changes include:

  • Covering all employees under the Employment Act.
  • Covering more non-workmen under Part IV of the Employment Act.
  • Wrongful dismissal claims to be heard by ECT.

For information on the key changes, you can read:

Covering all employees under the Employment Act

Managers and executives with a monthly basic salary of more than $4,500 will be covered by the Employment Act. Currently, they are not covered by the Employment Act.
This means that all employees, with the exception of seafarers, domestic workers and public officers, in Singapore will be covered for core provisions such as:

  • Minimum days of annual leave.
  • Paid public holidays and sick leave.
  • Timely payment of salary.
  • Statutory protection against wrongful dismissal.

Seafarer, domestic workers and public officers continue not to be covered under the Employment Act. They are covered by other Acts and regulations due to the nature of their work.

Covering more non-workmen under Part IV of the Employment Act

Non-workmen earning up to $2,600 will be covered under Part IV of the Employment Act.
Part IV of the Employment Act provides additional protections such as hours of work, rest and overtime pay. Currently, it covers workmen earning up to $4,500 and non-workmen earning up to $2,500.

Wrongful dismissal claims to be heard by ECT

Wrongful dismissal claims will be heard by the ECT. Currently, these claims are heard by the Minister for Manpower.
As the ECT already hears salary-related claims, this shift will provide a more convenient one-stop service to both employees and employers.
Similar to the existing process for salary-related claims, employees have to register their wrongful dismissal claims at TADM for mediation. If the claims cannot be resolved through mediation, they will be referred to the ECT.

Guide to the Top 5 FAQs about Changes to the Employment Act

  • 1) Does the expanded coverage of the EA include the CEOs and CFOs?
  • 2) Our existing employment contract states that all employees would receive their salary on the 15th of the following month, to which they have all agreed and signed on the contract. Can I continue to pay their salary based on this contractual agreement?

  • 3) Can I cap the number of unused annual leave to be carried over to the following year as part of my company’s HR policy?
  • 4) Do I have to provide paid sick leave if my employee visited a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner?
  • 5) My employee went to seek medical treatment from a doctor who was neither a company-approved doctor nor a government doctor. Do I have to reimburse the medical consultation fee?
Click here to learn the answers for the above FAQs.

Source of Information for all Work Passes & their related matters is from the Ministry Of Manpower & TAFEP.
You may wish to visit Ministry Of Manpower (MOM) online for detailed information and current updates.

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