MOM seeks feedback for reviews of labour laws

PHOTO: MOM seeks feedback for reviews of labour laws

SINGAPORE - The Manpower Ministry (MOM) is seeking public feedback as it starts the second phase of reviews to the Employment Act and the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.

In the first review phase, the Employment Act - Singapore's main labour law - was extended in March this year to give more workers protection. In late 2012 the EFMA was adjusted to get tougher on errant employers.

The second phase will focus on protecting vulnerable workers while allowing firms flexibility.

One issue is protecting staff under "non-traditional work arrangements", such as those on fixed-term contracts, outsourced workers and freelancers.

For instance, employees on fixed-term contracts are already covered by the Employment Act but must serve at least three months to get benefits such as paid sick leave and annual leave.

To avoid giving such benefits, some employers have structured their short-term contracts to be renewed with a break every three or fewer months. The MOM said it is looking to address this.

Meanwhile, freelancers are not covered by the Employment Act - even though some are in arrangements similar to an employee- employer relationship, such as working for only one client and having fixed working hours.

Currently, they "do not receive the benefits of the employment laws that they should rightfully receive as employees," the MOM said.

The review will also look at giving more protection to low-wage workers. It will consider whether written employment terms and electronic payment of workers' salaries should be made mandatory to avoid disputes and ensure on-time salary payments.

Meanwhile, the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act review will look at the circumstances under which foreign workers could be allowed to change employers. Views should be sent to the MOM by Oct 30.

Write to the Workplace Policy and Strategy Division, 18 Havelock Road, #06-02, Singapore 059764. Or send a fax to 6534-0559 or e-mail: