The Employment Act is undergoing its first review in 6 years to expand its scope of coverage and streamline how employment disputes are settled.
Currently, the Employment Act covers the following provisions for certain groups of employees:
To understand how the review impacts us, let’s look at three issues which aren’t currently covered by the Employment Act.
1. Unfair dismissals of PMEs earning more than $4,500 a month
It is not uncommon to hear stories of PMEs who were suddenly asked to leave on the spot, or those who were asked to resign even though there were no prior incidences of poor performance review or warnings.
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay recently revealed that despite the last round of Employment Act amendments in April 2014, the Labour Movement has still been receiving feedback queries from aggrieved PMEs via unions, NTUC U PME Centres, NTUC LawWorks Legal Clinics, Meet-the-people sessions and social media platforms, some of whom they were unable to assist as some of these PMEs earned more than $4,500 per month.
He advocates the removal of the $4,500 salary cap and expanding the Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT) to cover unfair dismissals.
2. Salary or payment-related issues
Some PMEs earning over $4,500 a month encounter situations where their company chooses to withhold their salary payments, claims, commissions, bonuses and related CPF contributions due to various reasons such as “disciplinary issues”, “breach of contract” or “lack of evidence that employee contributed to $XXX sales”.
Whilst these PMEs have the option to go to the ECT, many of these cases are tied up with unfair dismissals, which isn’t under the jurisdiction of ECT, nor the Employment Act either.
3. Overtime payments
According to the Ministry of Manpower, the median gross monthly income from work of full time resident PMEs in 2016 has risen to $5,910 (or a basic monthly salary of more than $5,000).
However, additional protections under the Employment Act such as overtime pay only extends to PMEs earning up to $2,500 a month (with a rate cap of $2,250 a month).
This means that the majority of PMEs are not protected for overtime pay, even though we work the longest hours in the world according to AsiaOne.
It is high time the Employment Act is reviewed to cover the majority of working people in Singapore.