The Employment Law Review: Singapore

Introduction

The Employment Act serves as the central piece of employment legislation in Singapore, outlining salient terms and conditions for employment, and the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees under contracts of service. The Act affords essentially all private sector employees in Singapore coverage under its core provisions, regardless of position or salary level. However, it excludes Singapore government or statutory board employees, seafarers and domestic workers from its coverage.

Part IV of the Employment Act provides additional protection (such as mandatory rest days, overtime pay and maximum hours of work) to select groups of employees, namely workmen (essentially manual labourers) earning a maximum of S$4,500 as a basic monthly salary, and those other than workmen and other than persons employed in managerial or executive positions (including professionals) earning a maximum of S$2,600 as a basic monthly salary.

In addition to the Employment Act, other statutes govern specific aspects of employment, including the Retirement and Re-Employment Act, the Child Development Co-savings Act (concerning parental leave), the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, the Workplace Safety and Health Act, the Employment Claims Act 2016 and the Personal Data Protection Act 2012. Singapore's Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) also issues guidelines and advisories. The TAFEP guidelines and advisories will soon be written into law (see Section II.ii, below).

Employment-related statutes are primarily enforced by the courts (including the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) and the Industrial Arbitration Court), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC, in the case of the Personal Data Protection Act 2012). Before a claim can be made before the ECT, a request must be made for mediation before the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).

Year in review

i Covid-19 advisories

In light of the rapidly evolving covid-19 pandemic, the MOM has been periodically updating its advisories on workplace and vaccination policies. Safe management measures have now become the norm.2 There are also provisions for an employer's obligation to ensure that only selected categories of persons may enter their workplaces.3

With 98 per cent of the total workforce fully vaccinated (as at 19 December 2021), effective as of 15 January 2022, only three categories of employees will be allowed to return to the workplace: (1) fully vaccinated employees; (2) employees who have recovered from covid-19 within the past 180 days; and (3) employees who have been certified as medically ineligible to receive a vaccine. Partially vaccinated employees will still be allowed at workplaces with a negative pre-event test result up to 31 January 2022. However, after this date, they must be fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees who had a valid negative covid-19 pre-event test result from the past 24 hours were previously also allowed to enter workplaces, but this is no longer the case as of 15 January 2022. Employers can also request proof of vaccination and treat employees who refuse to provide such proof (or confirmation of their recovery from covid-19, or their medical ineligibility for a vaccine) as unvaccinated. In fact, employers are now obliged to collect, record and hold vaccination-related information regarding their employees, if employees are required to perform work outside their place of residence – however, employers should not collect such information for purposes other than ensuring compliance with the relevant regulations.4

Employers may also permit or require employees to attend the workplace, even if they do not necessarily have to be physically present at the workplace to perform their contracted work.5 In relation to unvaccinated employees, employers may also exercise their discretion to (1) allow them to work from home (if employers assess that this working arrangement sufficiently meets operational and business needs), (2) redeploy them to other jobs that can be done from home, with commensurate remuneration, (3) place them on no-pay leave, or (4) as a last resort, terminate their employment on the grounds of the employees' inability to perform their contracted work at the workplace – the termination would not then be regarded as wrongful dismissal (see Section XIII.v). Special regard should be given, however, to employees who are medically ineligible to receive vaccines and those who are pregnant.

In addition to the above, employees who test positive on the Antigen Rapid Test (ART) but are physically well are advised to self-isolate at home for 72 hours.6 They may return to work thereafter if a subsequent ART result is negative. During self-isolation, employees should not report to the workplace and should be allowed to work from home if they are able to do so. If working from home is not possible, employers should treat the period of absence as either paid outpatient sick leave or paid hospitalisation leave without requiring a medical certificate, and should not ask the employees to take no-pay leave during the period of self-isolation.

ii Enactment of tripartite guidelines

In August 2021, Singapore's prime minister announced key changes to the employment landscape, expected to take effect in 2022:7 (1) the enshrinement of Tripartite Guidelines into law and (2) the establishment of a new tribunal (modelled after the ECT – see Section XIII.v, below).

The present Tripartite Guidelines and advisories deal with a wide range of employment-related matters, including fair employment practices, performance management, grievance handling, dismissals, retrenchment and retirement. Presently, only some of these have statutory force (such as the Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal). It remains to be seen whether all other guidelines and advisories will have force of law following these changes. As for the new tribunal, it can be expected that this would deal in particular with discrimination within the workplace, for example, on the grounds of age, race, religion or disability.

iii Foreign employees

Within the course of just one year, in 2020, the applicable requirements for foreign workers to obtain work passes were changed quite significantly. The minimum salary for foreign professionals, managers and executives to apply for an Employment Pass (EP) was incrementally raised from S$3,600 (which had remained unchanged since January 2017) to S$3,900 in May 2020, and then to S$4,500 as of September 2020, with more senior would-be EP holders in their 40s needing to earn a salary of at least double the minimum level in order to qualify. Since December 2020, the minimum EP qualifying salary for the financial services sector was further raised to S$5,000. As for S Passes (suitable for skilled workers such as technicians), the qualifying monthly salary has been incrementally raised from S$2,300 to S$2,500 as of October 2020.

Further, Singapore's prime minister announced in August 2021 that there will be gradual and progressive tightening of the criteria applicable to work passes. It remains to be seen how this process will unfold (see also Section XV, below). For now, what is clear is that employers who intend to hire foreign workers can soon expect to have to pay all their local employees a qualifying salary of at least S$1,400. This is in contrast to the current position, whereby employers need only pay some (but not all) of their employees the qualifying salary in order to hire foreign workers, depending on how many work permits or S passes are being applied for. Work passes are further discussed in Section VII, below.

Significant cases

i Dong Wei v. Shell Eastern Trading (Pte) Ltd and another

The implied obligation of mutual trust and confidence continues to take deeper root in Singapore employment contracts, and Singapore High Court has now provided some useful guidelines on how employers should conduct themselves during employment investigations, suspensions and terminations, in keeping with the spirit of this implied term.

In the May 2021 Singapore High Court decision in Dong Wei v. Shell Eastern Trading (Pte) Ltd and another,8 it was held that the implied obligation of mutual trust and confidence requires a minimum level of 'fairness' of employers when suspending and investigating employees – on this, the outcome cannot be pre-ordained. Relatedly, the procedures and manner of investigation cannot amount to a 'hatchet job', the allegations against the employee should be made sufficiently clear to the employee, and the employee should be given an opportunity to clarify his or her position. A decision to suspend an employee as a 'knee-jerk' reaction to an unclear or unspecific allegation with dubious credibility would fall below the required standard of fairness required by this implied term.

That being said, the High Court added a caveat that this implied term does not necessarily import all the obligations of natural justice and due process. Some leeway is therefore afforded to employers to act on practical considerations, taking into account the credibility of the sources of allegations and the gravity of the situation.

More specifically, the High Court held that the implied term of mutual trust and confidence does not extend to a duty to combat misinformation pertaining to employees, or to take reasonable care to protect employees from economic and reputational harm. Where termination is concerned, the High Court further opined (in obiter) that the employer's express contractual right to dismiss an employee with notice and without cause should not be qualified by an 'overriding obligation of trust and confidence' (for example, to only do so on provision of a valid reason), especially since the said obligation, being implied in nature, cannot rewrite the express wording of a termination clause. However, this should be understood in light of Singapore's wrongful dismissal regime (see Section XIII.i below).

ii Wong Sung Boon v. Fuji Xerox Singapore Pte Ltd and another

In February 2021, the Singapore High Court considered a situation in which a long-serving employee was summarily dismissed around three months prior to his scheduled retirement, after having served his employer for 40 years. Instead of receiving his end-of-term payment, notice pay and bonuses (to which he would otherwise have been entitled), the employee was told by the employer to leave immediately on grounds of alleged wrongful conduct.

The employer's inability to substantiate any of its allegations of wrongful conduct was laid bare in the course of the High Court proceedings.9 The employer was unable to produce complete documentation of the alleged incidents, and was not able to call witnesses with direct and personal knowledge of the incidents in question. In holding that the employer had failed to prove any of the allegations, the High Court awarded damages to the employee of more than S$1.4 million.

This case serves as an important reminder to all employers not to treat summary dismissals lightly – especially where employees stand to lose specific payments as a result of the dismissal, and to differentiate between minor administrative breaches and serious misconduct. In this case, although the employee was found to have breached several internal policies in the course of his employment, these breaches were held to be insufficient to justify a summary dismissal, especially given the Court's finding that the employer had subsequently ratified the breaches.

Besides the high evidentiary bar, employers intending to summarily dismiss an employee must also make sure that any investigation into employee misconduct is robust, comprehensive and properly recorded. This has become all the more important in view of the Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal (see Section XIII.i, below).

Basics of entering an employment relationship

i Employment relationship

At common law, contracts of employment or of service (as opposed to contracts for service, which are independent contractor relationships) can be formed in writing, orally or by conduct. An employee does not necessarily need to sign a written employment contract for the terms of employment to be enforceable, though evidentiary issues may arise when there is no written contract.

However, employers in Singapore are statutorily required to set out certain key employment terms (KETs) in writing, and to issue a copy of these written KETs to all employees covered by the Employment Act (hired on or after 1 April 2016) within 14 days of commencing employment. KETs include provisions relating to, among other things, payment of salary, allowances and other salary-related payments, such as bonuses and incentives, leave entitlement and termination notice periods.

Employers should ensure that any onerous financial terms are set out expressly and unambiguously in employment contracts, and specifically brought to employees' attention where possible. This is important, as the courts have leaned in favour of the employee when construing onerous terms in employment agreements,10 and have also endorsed the concept of an implied duty of mutual trust and confidence between employers and employees.11

Fixed-term employment contracts are not uncommon and are enforceable, and may potentially be terminated prior to the expiry of the fixed term (depending on their provisions). In the absence of an agreement otherwise, the notice period for termination of a fixed-term contract should be not less than the minimum notice periods prescribed by the Employment Act (see Section XIII.iv, below).12

The distinction between independent contractors and employees is also important – 'independent contractors' include freelancers and gig workers, who are engaged through contracts for services and are not presently entitled to any statutory rights or protection under Singapore law, whereas 'employees' are hired through contracts of service and entitled to statutory employee rights and protections. There is no bright-line test applicable to distinguish between the two categories; if engaged, the courts will determine the question holistically with regard to all relevant factors. Employers should exercise prudence, therefore, in determining whether an individual is an independent contractor or employee, and err on the side of caution when in doubt. Failure to provide employment benefits where they are due could result in claims by the individual or even prosecutions under the relevant statutes.13

Another important distinction must be made between employees who are covered by Part IV of the Employment Act (and who are therefore entitled to additional protections) and employees who are not (see Section I, above). Employers ought also to exercise prudence in making this determination and refrain from making arbitrary classifications, which is unlikely to find favour with the courts and the authorities. Employers could otherwise be faced with claims for additional entitlements (such as overtime pay) from employees covered by Part IV of the Employment Act.14

ii Probationary periods

Probationary periods are allowed and are generally between one and three months. The contractual notice period for dismissal is, in practice, shorter during probationary periods (e.g., one week, as opposed to one month post-probation). There are currently no statutory requirements in this respect, save that probationary periods must be expressly stated as a KET (see Section IV.i, above).

iii Establishing a presence

A foreign company must be registered in Singapore to carry on business in Singapore. In this respect, the hiring of employees (local or foreign, through an agency or another third party) or agents to conduct the company's affairs and operations in Singapore would generally be considered as carrying on business in Singapore. On the other hand, registration is unlikely to be required when only an isolated transaction is contemplated.

Carrying on business in Singapore or having a permanent establishment (PE) in Singapore is likely to attract corporate income tax liability as long as the income is accrued in or derived from Singapore, or received in Singapore from outside Singapore in respect of gains or profits. Singapore's Income Tax Act defines a PE as having a fixed place from where a business is wholly or partly conducted. A person is also deemed to have a PE in Singapore if that person has another person acting on his or her behalf in Singapore who has and habitually exercises authority to conclude contracts.

For employees, income tax is determined by the employee's residence status as well as the source of his or her income. Before a non-Singapore citizen employee ceases employment, the employer is generally required to withhold all moneys due to the employee until tax clearance with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore is completed.

Restrictive covenants

Under Singapore law, restraints of trade are generally contrary to public policy and, therefore, unenforceable. The exception15 is where a restrictive covenant (1) seeks to protect a legitimate proprietary interest of the employer, and (2) satisfies the twin tests of reasonableness, namely, that the clause is reasonable between the parties concerned and with respect to the interests of the public as a whole.

Subject to the fulfilment of the above requirements, an aggrieved employer may seek injunctive relief (among other things) from a court against the breaching employee to compel compliance (on pain of committal proceedings)16 of the employee's restrictive covenants. The injunctive relief can be interim (i.e., pending the resolution of the main action) or permanent in nature. It is also possible to obtain similar reliefs through arbitration proceedings.

i Confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-poaching clauses

In Man Financial,17 the High Court recognised three legitimate proprietary interests in the employment context: (1) trade secrets and confidential information; (2) trade or business connections (clients and customers); and (3) the maintenance of a stable, trained workforce (staff). In practice, these are commonly protected through confidentiality, non-solicitation (of clients and customers), and non-poaching (of employees) clauses. Confidential information can also be generally protected at common law.

Care should be taken to ensure that the restraints are reasonable. For example, in Man Financial, the High Court held that the courts will not sanction a covenant seeking to prevent an employee from exercising his or her own natural skill, talent and abilities, even if these were acquired or improved during the course of employment. Employers should also be mindful of the geographical scope and duration of any non-solicitation and non-poaching restraints, and should refrain from imposing blanket worldwide restrictions. Further, restraints should ideally be referable to individuals over whom the former employee had influence, and should also consider the types of employees that should not be poached. Periods of restraints of up to one year can generally be enforced. Although there is no clear prohibition against longer periods, and restraints of up to two years have been allowed in certain specialist industries,18 the length of the prohibition period may affect the overall enforceability of the clause.

ii Non-compete clauses

Under Singapore law at present, non-compete clauses are difficult to uphold and enforce if the three recognised legitimate proprietary interests identified in Section V.i (above) are already protected by other clauses. In its 2005 decision in Stratech Systems Ltd v. Nyam Chiu Shin,19 the Court of Appeal found that the employer that sought to enforce a non-compete clause was unable to demonstrate any other legitimate proprietary interest that required protection, apart from the interests already protected by other restrictive covenants (in that case, a confidentiality clause). As such, the Court concluded that the main function of the non-compete clause was to inhibit competition and, therefore, was unenforceable. The Court of Appeal in Man Financial reaffirmed the principle in Stratech and took the view that it would apply equally in the context of other legitimate proprietary interests (i.e., not just confidentiality).20

The correctness of the Stratech proposition has since been doubted (although nevertheless still followed and applied),21 or otherwise not expressly considered in the High Court.22 However, the majority of subsequent High Court decisions still apply the Stratech proposition in a straightforward manner.23 It would be interesting if an appropriate case were to be brought before the Court of Appeal for a fresh decision on whether the Stratech proposition remains good law. Until then though, given the binding nature of Court of Appeal decisions over the High Court in Singapore's legal system, employers should as a matter of prudence treat the Stratech proposition as continuing to apply.

Even when the Stratech proposition presents no bar to the enforcement of a non-compete clause (i.e., when some or all of the other restrictive covenants are absent), non-competition restraints will in any event only be enforceable if they are reasonable (as with other restraints). In this respect, the court will consider the types of employees sought to be restrained, over and above other common factors (i.e., the scope of activities restrained, the geographical scope of restraint and the period of restraint). Notably, the High Court in Powerdrive Pte Ltd v. Loh Kin Yong Philip and others24 observed and reaffirmed that a non-compete clause indiscriminately used against all employees (without regard to seniority, nature of work or access to information) would suggest that the true purpose of the clause was to restrain competition rather than protect an employer's legitimate interest, which would make the clause unenforceable. The Court further noted that the two-year duration of the non-competition restriction appeared to be 'arbitrarily selected' in that particular case.25

iii Severance

If a restrictive covenant is directed at protecting a legitimate proprietary interest but is too wide and unreasonable to be enforceable, the court may sever some portions of the relevant clause so that the remainder becomes reasonable and enforceable. This 'blue-pencil' test allows for severance by deletion but not addition or other amendment.

Significantly, in Smile Inc Dental Surgeons Pte Ltd v. Lui Andrew Stewart,26 the Court of Appeal indicated that it was not in favour of the 'notional' severance approach in which a court applies the flexible 'reading-down' test by modifying or adding to the clause as appropriate. As such, a restrictive covenant with an unreasonably long period of restraint (e.g., three years) cannot be notionally read down (e.g., to one year) and, therefore, could be struck out in its entirety as unreasonable. The subsequent High Court decision in Lek Gwee Noi v. Humming Flowers & Gifts Pte Ltd 27 also opined that cascading clauses, which consist of multiple overlapping periods and areas of restraint, to specifically allow the offending clauses to be blue-pencilled out, offend against public policy as they increase rather than reduce uncertainty. Employers should therefore draft reasonable restraints at the outset, instead of drafting unreasonably long or cascading periods of restraint in trying to potentially obtain maximum protection, then subsequently relying on the courts to read down the provision to make it enforceable where necessary.

iv Deferred bonuses

A potential way to achieve a similar result to a non-compete clause may be to expressly incentivise employees not to compete, or disincentivise employees from competing, for a specific period after employment. However, the employer should take great care in doing so as the courts have held that clauses that deprive employees of vested rights (e.g., bonuses to which an employee is already entitled) can also amount to restraints of trade and can be unenforceable if unreasonable.28

v Springboard injunctions

Injunctive relief may also be granted to prevent a person who has obtained confidential information from using it as a springboard for activities detrimental to the person, including an entity, to whom the confidential communication belongs, or from gaining an unfair advantage over, or a head start on, that person. Although similar in effect to an injunction based on express restrictive covenants, springboard injunctions originate from cases involving a breach of the duty of confidence, and do not exclusively arise in employer–employee situations. Accordingly, a springboard injunction may even be granted in the absence of any express restrictive covenants, although the presence of these would certainly be relevant. There has only been one reported instance of a springboard injunction being granted, though,29 and even that decision was overturned on appeal (there were no written grounds of decision rendered, so it remains unclear why and on what basis the decision was overturned). Employers should ensure, therefore, that, where necessary, express, suitable and enforceable restrictions are included in an employee's contract.

Wages

i Working time

Generally, employees covered by Part IV of the Employment Act (see Sections I and IV.i, above) cannot be required to work for more than eight hours a day (or nine hours a day in a working week that is five days or fewer) or 44 hours a week, or work for more than six consecutive hours without a leisure period. Under exceptional circumstances (e.g., urgent work, or work essential for defence or security), these employees may be permitted to exceed the aforementioned daily limit, provided they still do not work for more than 12 hours a day.

Employees covered under Part IV of the Employment Act are also allowed one whole day (or for shift workers, any continuous period of 30 hours) as a rest day each week without pay. The employer can determine which day of the week the rest day shall be, which is usually Sunday by default. However, these employees may elect to work on, and be remunerated for, the rest day.

No statutory restrictions as to working hours, days or periods presently apply to employees not covered by Part IV of the Employment Act and any such restrictions would be a matter of contract between the employees and their employers.

ii Overtime

An employee covered by Part IV of the Employment Act (see Sections I and IV, above) must be paid for overtime at a rate of not less than one-and-a-half times the employee's basic hourly rate of pay, or twice the rate if the employee is requested by the employer to work on a rest day. Overtime payments must be made to the employee within 14 days of the last day of the employee's salary period.

In addition, an employee covered by the Employment Act, regardless of whether he or she is also covered by Part IV, and required by his or her employer to work on any public holiday is entitled to an extra day's salary at the basic rate of pay. Alternatively, and provided that the employee is not covered by Part IV of the Employment Act, he or she may be given a day off or a part thereof in lieu of an extra day's salary.

An employee may work overtime at higher rates of pay for more than the aforementioned numbers of hours or on a rest day, provided that no employee works overtime for more than 72 hours in a month.

Foreign workers

The principal statutes governing employment of foreign workers are the Employment Act and the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA). Under the EFMA, no foreign employee may be employed or work without a valid work pass (with limited exceptions depending on the type of work being carried out). In addition, all employers are required to keep a register of foreign employees to whom they have issued work passes. The more common types of work passes include Work Permits, S Passes and Employment Passes (EPs). These are valid only for the employer, type, place or time of employment expressly specified, and each work pass is issued with mandatory conditions that the employer and foreign employee must follow.

Work Permits are usually applicable to manual or unskilled workers (e.g., construction workers) or domestic helpers. They typically last two years, with limitations on quotas and maximum employment periods, depending on the industry sector, and an employee's skill level and nationality. S Passes are usually issued to skilled workers (e.g., technicians) and quotas are applicable to each employer. Unlike Work Permits, S Passes do not have maximum employment periods. EPs are suitable for foreign professionals, managers and executives, with no quota restrictions and maximum employment periods. Although not applicable for Work Permits, minimum monthly qualifying salaries are applicable for S Passes (at S$2,500) and for EPs (presently at S$5,000 for the financial services sector and S$4,500 for other sectors, with higher salaries required for more senior employees – e.g., double the minimum level for employees in their forties).

Before applying for S Passes and EPs, employers are obliged to post the relevant job advertisements on MyCareersFuture.sg, the national jobs portal, to ensure fair consideration of local candidates. The job advertisements should remain available and open for 28 days, and foreign workers should not be selected before advertisements are posted. Non-compliance, or merely going through the motions of advertising, can be met with administrative action, and employers could find themselves barred from applying for or renewing work passes for up to two years, or even be subject to prosecution.30

Foreign workers are not entitled to benefits that only Singaporean citizens or permanent residents qualify for, such as Central Provident Fund contributions. As for taxes, employers are not required to pay taxes for foreign employees, but are required to observe the tax reporting and tax clearance procedures, as explained in Section IV.iii, above.

Global policies

Singapore has no specific laws mandating the implementation of internal disciplinary rules and procedures by employers, though the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices require that employers (1) set out their disciplinary procedures and policies for breaches of conduct, (2) set up mechanisms to deal with complaints of discrimination and (3) communicate the foregoing clearly to their employees. Other materials, such as a Tripartite Advisory on Managing Workplace Harassment and Tripartite Standards on Grievance Handling, have also been published, with a Grievance Handling Handbook on requirements and guidelines on managing grievances within the workplace. Although these particular Tripartite advisories and guidelines are not legally binding per se at present, the MOM has warned that non-compliance may result in administrative actions, including the curtailment of an employer's work pass privileges.

In practice, many employers in Singapore, especially multinational companies, institute internal disciplinary rules and policies with respect to issues such as discrimination, corruption and sexual harassment. These policies are commonly made accessible to employees on a company's intranet or detailed in a company's human resources policies or employee handbook, and are usually expressly incorporated into employment contracts.

Parental leave

i Regimes under Employment Act and Child Development Co-Savings Act

Parental leave is governed by the Employment Act and the Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA). Generally, to qualify for parental leave under the Employment Act, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least three months; however, to be eligible for parental leave under the CDCA, the employee's child must be a Singapore citizen, which is generally the case if at least one parent is a Singapore citizen, and the child is either born in Singapore or (if born outside Singapore) the child's birth is duly registered in Singapore within a year. The employee must also have worked for the employer for at least three months before the child's birth or adoption (as the case may be).

Parental leave entitlements are generally greater under the CDCA, and employers may seek partial or full reimbursement from the Singapore government for payment of parental leave benefits of employees covered by the CDCA, although caps apply both to the sums an employer is obliged to pay to its employee, and to the government reimbursements available. Leave entitlements under the Employment Act are generally less favourable (see below), and no government reimbursements can be applied for to cover these benefits. Once an employee is entitled to parental leave under the CDCA, the employee will no longer be entitled to parental leave under the Employment Act.

There are also elements common to both statutory regimes. For example, under both statutes, it is not lawful for an employer to give a female employee notice of dismissal (or termination) while she is on maternity leave or such that the notice period will expire while she is on maternity leave. Although it is not entirely clear from the relevant statutes, this prohibition is also likely to apply to a dismissal issued with immediate effect by payment in lieu of notice (i.e., the notice period, if fully served, would have expired while the employee was on maternity leave).

Further, if an employer gives a female employee notice of dismissal (or termination) without sufficient cause (or on grounds of redundancy or reorganisation) while she is pregnant but prior to her maternity leave, the notice of dismissal cannot deprive the employee of any payments or entitlements that she would otherwise have received had she not been dismissed. This is the case even if the notice period would expire prior to the maternity leave. In other words, the employer would still have to pay the employee for her paid maternity leave.

A contract that purports to deprive a female employee of her statutory maternity benefits or reduce an employer's obligations in this respect will be null and void. It is also generally an offence to refuse to allow an employee to take parental leave. Over and above all this, an employee who takes the view that he or she has been dismissed for a wrongful reason (for example, because the employer was seeking to deprive the employee of his or her statutory entitlements) may commence a claim for wrongful dismissal against the employer (see Section XIII.v, below).

ii Types of parental leave

Singapore law affords the following types of parental leave, provided that the employee fulfils the relevant qualifying criteria under the relevant statute, as described below:

Type of leaveUnder the CDCAUnder the Employment ActApplicable to
Maternity16 paid weeks8 paid weeks, plus 4 unpaid weeksPregnant and qualifying working mothers
Adoption12 paid weeksNoneAdoptive and qualifying working mothers
Paternity2 paid weeksNoneQualifying working fathers
Shared parentalUp to 4 paid weeksNoneWorking fathers wishing to share in the working mother's maternity leave
Infant care6 days of unpaid leave per yearNoneQualifying parents with children under the age of two
Childcare6 days of paid leave per year2 days of paid leave per yearQualifying parents with children under the age of seven
Extended childcare2 days of paid leave per yearNoneQualifying parents with children between seven and 12 years of age

Parents who qualify for both childcare leave and extended childcare leave under the CDCA are also not allowed to take more than a combined total of six such leave days in a year.

Translation

Singaporean commercial contracts, including employment contracts, are generally in English, which is the language of business in Singapore. However, this does not mean that employment contracts not in English will not be upheld. In fact, employers are encouraged to adopt the language that its employees can understand, especially with respect to KETs. There is also no legislation or guidelines requiring translation of employment-related documents (if in another language) into English, though this would be necessary before such documents may be received, filed or used in the Singapore courts.

Employee representation

The Trade Unions Act allows employees to form or join trade unions to regulate their relationships with their employers through collective agreements. Professionals, managers and executives (or PMEs) may also be collectively represented by trade unions. That said, where the majority of a trade union's membership is made up of non-PMEs, it will not be able to collectively represent PMEs if there is a real or potential conflict of interest between the PMEs and the non-PMEs, or if management effectiveness may be undermined.

Once formed and registered with the Registrar of Trade Unions, a trade union may approach an employer for statutory recognition under the Industrial Relations (Recognition of a Trade Union of Employees) Regulations. Upon recognition, a trade union can invite the employer to negotiate a collective agreement for its relevant employees, pursuant to the Industrial Relations Act. This agreement would then govern the employment relationship between the employer and the unionised employees. The unions may also assist individual unionised employees in negotiating better bonuses, salary increments and other benefits. They could also facilitate collective negotiations and take quite an active role in negotiating retrenchment benefits.31 A fair number of larger companies and multinationals in Singapore have granted statutory recognition to, and negotiated collective agreements with, trade unions.

It is difficult for an employer to refuse to recognise a trade union at law. If an employer continually refuses, the MOM Commissioner for Labour may call for a secret ballot of the employees entitled to vote, and if a majority of those employees are members of that trade union, the employer must give it recognition. If the majority is not met, then the union is precluded from seeking recognition again for six months. If the employer refuses to negotiate a collective agreement, a statutory trade dispute will exist, which will have to be determined by the Industrial Arbitration Court, where legal representation is not allowed. Prior to that, the Commissioner for Labour from the MOM may intervene to facilitate reconciliation between the parties.

Technically, a registered trade union is also able to commence, promote, organise and finance a strike or industrial action, but it may only do so in very limited circumstances – the majority of affected members must consent to strike through a secret ballot, and under the Trade Disputes Act an industrial action is illegal if (1) it has any other object than the furtherance of a trade dispute, (2) it is in furtherance of a trade dispute of which the Industrial Arbitration Court has cognisance, or (3) it is designed or calculated to coerce the government either directly or by inflicting hardship on the community.

Union-led strikes are very rare in Singapore. In 2020, three unions did commence and fulfil the legal prerequisites to conduct a strike, but a strike was averted as, ultimately, the unions and the employer were able to agree on the retrenchment benefits to be provided to the affected workers.32 Apart from this, the last illegal strike, in 2012, did not involve a union and the previous legal strike was in 1986, which lasted one day.

Data protection

The Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA) governs personal data protection and applies to all organisations except those in the public sector. It generally protects personal data, which is broadly defined as data about an individual who can be identified from that data, or in conjunction with other likely accessible information, through governing its collection, use and disclosure. The PDPA is administered and enforced by the PDPC, which has also released substantive advisory guidelines informing the content and application of the PDPA.

i Requirements for registration and protection of personal data

The PDPA does not contain any express requirement for an organisation to register with the PDPC. However, it requires that an organisation designate one or more individuals to be responsible for ensuring that the organisation complies with it (i.e., a data protection officer (DPO)). The business contact information of at least one of these individuals must be made available to the public.

The PDPA generally requires that an individual's consent be obtained before an organisation can collect, use or disclose personal data. This applies to all forms of relationships with companies, including clients, customers, suppliers and employees. However, the PDPA dispenses with the requirement for the individual's consent in certain situations, for example, where personal data is collected, used or disclosed (or both) for:

  1. the legitimate interests of the organisation, if they outweigh any adverse effects on the individual (this is a new exception under the PDPA, which came into effect on 1 February 2021);
  2. within reason, for business improvement (e.g., for developing new goods and services) and for research purposes – these are likewise new exceptions;
  3. the purposes of managing or terminating (or both) an employment relationship (the employee should still be notified of these purposes);
  4. evaluation purposes (which include determining the suitability, eligibility or qualifications of the individual for employment, promotion or removal); and
  5. investigations or proceedings.

The PDPA does not expressly differentiate between sensitive and non-sensitive personal data. The general obligation is to obtain appropriate consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal data, whether sensitive or not.

Organisations must also safeguard the personal data in their custody or control by making reasonable security arrangements to prevent unauthorised access, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or other similar risks. They must destroy or anonymise personal data once the purpose for its collection has expired. Employers must also ensure that their employees understand and uphold the PDPA obligations regarding data privacy. Any conduct by an employee in the course of his or her employment is treated as being performed by the relevant employer, regardless of whether the employer had knowledge or gave approval for the conduct.

With effect from 1 February 2021, organisations are also required by the PDPA to notify the PDPC within three calendar days of a data breach, after assessing that the data breach results in, or is likely to result in, significant harm or impact to an affected individual, or is of a significant scale (i.e., involving the personal data of 500 or more individuals). Affected individuals and other parties are also to be notified as soon as possible.

ii Cross-border data transfers

Under the PDPA, an organisation is not allowed to transfer any personal data to a country or territory outside Singapore except in accordance with requirements prescribed under the PDPA to ensure that organisations provide a standard of protection to personal data that is comparable to the protection under this Act. Insofar as the transfer may constitute disclosure of personal data to different organisations, consent would have to be obtained from the relevant individuals unless an exception applies. This is pertinent to multinational corporations as the personal data of employees is often transferred to offices outside Singapore.

iii Background checks

Background checks are generally permissible. However, the general rule remains that an individual's consent must be provided before his or her personal data may be collected, used or disclosed, subject to certain exceptions.

Discontinuing employment

Employees may generally be dismissed in one of two ways: termination with notice or with payment in lieu of notice (i.e., dismissal without cause); or summary termination without notice or payment in lieu (i.e., dismissal for cause).

i Summary dismissal

Sections 11(2) and 14(1) of the Employment Act prescribe that termination without notice or payment in lieu of notice is only permissible (1) in the event of any wilful breach by the other party of a condition of service or (2) on the grounds of misconduct inconsistent with the fulfilment of the conditions of service. The Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal (the Wrongful Dismissal Guidelines) – which the ECT and the courts hearing appeals from the ECT are statutorily required to have regard to – further provide that misconduct is the only legitimate reason for dismissal without notice (it appears that these guidelines may have subsumed the ground of wilful breach under 'misconduct'), and defines misconduct as conduct involving acts such as (non-exhaustively) theft, dishonest or disorderly conduct at work, insubordination and bringing the organisation into disrepute.

The Employment Act and Wrongful Dismissal Guidelines expressly require that an employer conduct a due inquiry process before dismissing an employee for misconduct. Although the term 'due inquiry' is not defined under the Employment Act, the MOM stipulates that, as a general guide, (1) the employee should be told of his or her alleged misconduct, (2) the employee should have the opportunity to present his or her case, and (3) the person or persons hearing the inquiry should not be in a position that may suggest bias. Though not having the force of law, the High Court has in the past referred to these guidelines in determining whether a due inquiry was carried out.33

For the purposes of conducting a due inquiry, an employer may suspend an employee from work for a period not exceeding one week, but the suspension cannot continue beyond a week unless the MOM approves a longer suspension. During this period, the employee must also be paid at least half his or her salary, and if the inquiry does not disclose any misconduct, the employer must immediately restore to the employee the full amount of salary that has been withheld.

Employers should also bear in mind that if an employee brings a wrongful dismissal claim before the ECT, the employer would bear the burden of proving that there was misconduct sufficient to warrant a summary dismissal. It would be prudent, therefore, for employers contemplating a summary dismissal to document any alleged instance of misconduct, the surrounding circumstances, the due inquiry process, as well as its final decision to summarily dismiss the employee.

ii Dismissal with notice or salary in lieu of notice

According to the Wrongful Dismissal Guidelines, legitimate reasons that may be given for dismissing an employee with notice include poor performance and redundancy. In these cases though, notice or salary in lieu of notice would still have to be provided. The employer would also need to substantiate the reason for dismissal, especially if poor performance is being relied on as a reason (and, given that it is the employer's burden to prove before the ECT that there was poor performance, the employer should have documented proof thereof). Redundancies are addressed in Section XIII.vii (below).

Employers are still at liberty to terminate an employee's employment with notice or salary in lieu of notice through a pure exercise of contractual rights. The Wrongful Dismissal Guidelines expressly state that this type of dismissal is presumed not to be wrongful. So, for example, and using an illustration set out in the Wrongful Dismissal Guidelines, if an employer dismisses an employee with notice without giving any reasons (and continues not to give any reasons even when asked), it would not be considered wrongful.

However, the presumption that a dismissal is not wrongful may be displaced if an employee is able to substantiate a wrongful reason for dismissal, such as discrimination (including on the basis of age, race, gender, religion, marital status, family responsibilities or disability), being deprived of an employment benefit (e.g. prior to a bonus payment), or if an employee is exercising his or her employment rights (e.g., to decline to work overtime, or possibly whistle-blowing). The Wrongful Dismissal Guidelines also provide that when an employer has provided a reason for dismissal with notice, but the reason given is later proven to be false, the dismissal may then be wrongful.

iii Termination by mutual agreement

A contract of employment can be brought to an end by way of an agreement, such as a separation or settlement agreement, between the employer and employee. This should normally contain release and discharge provisions. The validity of this type of agreement is subject to provisions of the Employment Act and general common law principles. Importantly, a contractual release and discharge alone cannot bar a subsequent ECT claim, although its presence may then be taken into account by the ECT. However, a valid and enforceable contractual release and discharge should operate to bar a claim directed to the court or arbitration.

iv Notice periods

If an employment contract is silent as to the relevant notice period, the Employment Act prescribes minimum notice periods according to the employee's length of service: (1) one day for employees employed for less than 26 weeks; (2) one week for employees employed for between 26 weeks and two years; (3) two weeks for employees employed for between two and five years; and (4) four weeks for employees employed for five years or more.

v Employee recourse

Employers should also bear in mind that dismissal is statutorily defined in the Employment Act as including 'the resignation of an employee if the employee can show that the employee did not resign voluntarily but was forced to do so because of any conduct or omission, or course of conduct or omissions, engaged in by the employer'. This is a statutory recognition of the concept of constructive dismissal and, under these circumstances, employees may be regarded as having been dismissed even if it was the employee who had actually resigned.

Employees who feel that they have been dismissed without just cause or excuse (or who have other employment-related disputes) may submit the dispute for mediation before the TADM. If mediation is unsuccessful, the employee may then commence proceedings before the ECT. External legal representation is not allowed at the TADM and ECT.

Claims for wrongful dismissal must be submitted for mediation before the TADM not later than one month after the date of dismissal, and a claim before the ECT for wrongful dismissal must be lodged within four weeks of the date of issue of a claim referral certificate (which will be issued by the TADM if a dispute remains unresolved). Any party to the proceedings may, if it is dissatisfied with an ECT decision, also appeal against the decision to the High Court on the grounds that the claim was outside the ECT's jurisdiction, or on any ground involving a question of law.

The jurisdictional limit for claims brought before the ECT (and TADM) is S$20,000 per claim (or S$30,000 per claim if the employee has participated in a tripartite mediation or is represented by a trade union), and an employee may potentially bring both a salary-related claim and a wrongful dismissal claim before the ECT (effectively doubling the aggregate limit to S$40,000 or S$60,000, as the case may be). The ECT may order the employer to reinstate the employee to his or her former position or compensate the employee with his or her lost wages, or both.

The Employment Claims Regulations 2017 essentially provide that where wrongful dismissal is made out, the amount of compensation to be awarded by the ECT for wrongful dismissal per se could range from zero to six months' basic salary, subject to the ECT's overall jurisdictional claim limits. This comprises compensation for the employee's loss of income and the harm caused to the employee as a result of the wrongful dismissal.

An employee is also at liberty to commence proceedings before the Singapore courts for damages. It would appear that the Singapore courts will not award damages for wrongful dismissal per se,34 but the position remains slightly unclear. However, if other Singapore courts applying common law are to award damages for wrongful dismissal per se, this would require a change to Singapore's common law and jurisprudence on the subject.

vi Severance payments and re-employment

With the exception of employment assistance payments (EAPs), which are payable under the Retirement and Re-Employment Act to eligible employees who have reached the statutory retirement age and are not re-employed, severance or redundancy payments are not statutorily required at present. Any contractual right to, and calculation of, severance pay should be set out in the employment contract, or any applicable collective agreement in the case of unionised employees.

Employers are generally obliged to re-employ employees who have reached the statutory retirement age (which is currently 62), provided certain criteria are fulfilled, which include the employee being assessed as having at least satisfactory work performance and being medically fit to continue working. If the employer is unable to find a suitable re-employment role for the employee (which should be for at least a year), then an EAP is statutorily required. The employer's re-employment obligations last until the employee reaches the statutory re-employment age (currently 67).

The Tripartite Guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Workers clarify that the intent behind the EAP is to help eligible employees who are not re-employed while they look for another job. It further suggests, among other things, that an EAP should be equivalent to 3.5 months' salary (subject to a minimum of S$5,500 and a maximum of S$13,000). In light of the diminishing obligation to re-employ a worker until the statutory re-employment age, older employees (between the ages of 64.5 and 67) may be provided with an EAP equivalent to two months' salary (subject to a minimum of S$3,500 and a maximum of S$7,500).

By 1 July 2022, the retirement and re-employment ages will be raised to 63 and 68, respectively, with the recommended EAP amount likewise increasing.35 Retirement and re-employment ages will subsequently be further raised in stages to 65 and 70 in 2030. Some employees, however, such as foreigners on work passes, are not eligible for re-employment or an EAP.

vii Retrenchments and redundancies

The terms 'retrenchment' and 'redundancy' are used interchangeably in Singapore. Although not defined statutorily, the Wrongful Dismissal Guidelines state that a redundancy occurs when an employer has excess manpower, a company is undergoing restructuring, a job no longer exists, or an employee's job scope has changed. The MOM defines 'retrenchment' as the termination of employee contracts through redundancy or reorganisation of an employer's profession, business, trade or work, including situations where companies undergo liquidation, receivership or judicial management.

If a retrenchment exercise is being contemplated, employers should have regard to the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (the Retrenchment Advisory). Though strictly speaking non-binding, the Retrenchment Advisory might also have force of law in time (see Section II.ii, above) and, in any event, the MOM, unions and employees may nevertheless take administrative or, potentially, industrial or civil action in cases of non-compliance. The MOM has also issued various covid-19-specific advisories relating to cost savings and retrenchment, which supplement the Retrenchment Advisory.36

The most recent version of the Retrenchment Advisory37 provides the following 10-step checklist for employers to consider when carrying out a retrenchment exercise:

  1. consider whether the situation warrants a retrenchment;
  2. tap into government support, and reskill or deploy employees where possible;
  3. implement other alternatives (i.e., cost-saving measures such as shorter work weeks and even no-pay leave);
  4. use objective, non-discriminatory criteria to identify employees to be retrenched;
  5. ensure that the proportion of local employees will not be lower after retrenchment;
  6. discuss the selection criteria and retrenchment benefit with trade unions, if any;
  7. communicate the situation and the retrenchment plans to employees;
  8. adhere to the applicable notice period for retrenchment (as set out in the employment contract, any collective agreement or the Employment Act);
  9. provide retrenchment benefits in accordance with the Retrenchment Advisory; and
  10. implement measures such as employment facilitation to support the affected employees.

The Retrenchment Advisory further suggests a scale of between two weeks' and one month's pay per year of service; employees with less than two years' service should be granted at least an ex gratia payment. From 1 November 2021, employers who have at least 10 employees are also required to notify the MOM within five working days after affected employees are notified of retrenchment.38

Transfer of business

Section 18A of the Employment Act generally provides that when an undertaking (defined as including any trade or business) or part thereof is transferred (defined as including 'the disposition of a business as a going concern and a transfer effected by sale, amalgamation, merger, reconstruction or operation of law') from one entity to another, the contracts of service of the affected employees covered under the Employment Act will have effect after the transfer as if originally made between the new employer and the employee. The transfer of the undertaking does not break the continuity of the period of employment, and the terms and conditions of the relevant contract of service remain the same (i.e., a statutory novation essentially takes place). When unionised employees are affected, the previous employer would also have to notify the relevant unionised employees and their trade unions so that consultations may take place.

In practice, whether Section 18A applies to the relevant transaction is not always clear. However, the MOM has provided some guidance. A Section 18A transfer could occur if the organisation is being restructured (which can involve a merger, takeover, sale of parts of a company or setting up a subsidiary company), but would be unlikely to occur in pure transfers of assets, transfers of shares, transfers of operations outside Singapore, outsourcing of supporting functions or a takeover of the provision of services through a competitive tendering. An important consideration in Section 18A transfers is what happens to holders of foreign work passes, as their work passes do not automatically transfer upon a Section 18A transfer. This puts the transferor, the transferee and the work pass holder all in breach of the relevant work pass regulations unless the work pass transfer is properly addressed.

Outlook

Employers and employees alike should keep a close eye on the recommendations made by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and the extent to which these will be adopted. Several recommendations were made in a report published in October 2021 by the NTUC-SNEF PME (professionals, managers and executives) Taskforce, which include equipping the TAFEP with legislative powers to investigate, enforce and punish errant companies in relation to workplace discrimination.

Thewe recommendations are presently being looked at. If adopted by the government, they will then dovetail with the prospective codification of the Tripartite Guidelines and the forthcoming new tribunal for workplace discrimination cases (see Section II.ii, above). These are important developments that may potentially change workplace dynamics in Singapore fundamentally, and certainly bear watching in the years ahead.

Also of note is the PME Taskforce's recommendation to enhance the review process in relation to work pass applications. In this respect, the Taskforce has proposed implementing a more transparent point system, factoring in sectoral input, whether the employer has been hiring and developing local workers, and the diversity of nationalities within the company.

The PME Taskforce has also recommended the provision of unemployment income support for PMEs who are involuntarily unemployed. No specific figures have been proposed at the time of writing.

Separately, the Ministry of Manpower is looking into better protection for gig economy workers and freelancers, an ever-expanding group of workers in Singapore who are not presently considered employees and have no specific statutory work rights. Key areas of concern include improving gig workers' retirement and housing adequacy, work injury compensation and trade union representation. These areas were also highlighted by the prime minister in August 2021, and one can expect measures to be proposed and possibly rolled out in the year ahead.

Footnotes

1 Ian Lim is a partner, Nicholas Ngo is an associate director and Li Wanchun is a senior associate at TSMP Law Corporation.

2 See Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Requirement for Safe Management Measures at the workplace, at https://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19/requirements-for-safe-management-measures (last accessed 14 January 2022).

3 See Updated Advisory on COVID-19 Vaccination at the Workplace, at https://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19/advisory-on-covid-19-vaccination-in-employment-settings (last accessed 14 January 2022) and the Workplace Safety and Health (COVID-19 Save Workplace) Regulations 2021.

4 Workplace Safety and Health (COVID-19 Safe Workplace) Regulations 2021, Regulation 15.

5 ibid., at Regulation 7.

6 See MOM, Advisory on work and leave arrangements for employees who test positive for COVID-19 but are mildly symptomatic or physically well, at https://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19/advisory-on-work-and-leave-arrangements-for-employees-who-test-art-positive-but-are-physically-well (last accessed 14 January 2022).

7 See Prime Minister's National Day Rally Speech, 29 August 2021, at https://www.pmo.gov.sg/Newsroom/National-Day-Rally-2021-English (last accessed 17 December 2021).

8 [2021] SGHC 123.

9 Wong Sung Boon v. Fuji Xerox Singapore Pte Ltd and another [2021] SGHC 24.

10 In Corinna Chin Shi Hwa v. Hewlett-Packard Singapore (Sales) Pte Ltd [2015] SGHC 204, the High Court observed that where an employer had used a standard form (as opposed to specifically negotiated) contract containing provisions that were ambiguous and obviously unfair without bringing these to the employee's attention, the employer may risk subsequently being unable to enforce those terms against the employee (this part of the High Court's decision was not revised on appeal).

11 Wee Kim San Lawrence Bernard v. Robinson & Co (Singapore) Pte Ltd [2014] 1 SLR 1382; [2014] 4 SLR 357.

12 Employment Act, Section 10(3).

13 See, e.g., Public Prosecutor v. Jurong Country Club and another appeal [2019] 5 SLR 554.

14 See, e.g., Hasan Shofiqul v. China Civil (Singapore) Pte Ltd [2018] 5 SLR 511.

15 As held by the Court of Appeal in Man Financial (S) Pte Ltd (formerly known as E D & F Man International (S) Pte Ltd) v. Wong Bark Chuan David (Man Financial) [2008] 1 SLR(R) 663.

16 See a recent example in Rohrlach, Nicolas Robert Adam v. Qantas Airways Ltd and another [2021] SGHC 281.

17 See footnote 13, above.

18 See Tan Kok Yong Steve v. Itochu Singapore Pte Ltd [2018] SGHC 85.

19 [2005] 2 SLR(R) 579.

20 [2008] 1 SLR(R) 663 at [92].

21 See, e.g., Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) Pte Ltd v. Byrne Roger Peter and others [2013] 2 SLR 193; Lek Gwee Noi v. Humming Flowers & Gifts Pte Ltd [2014] 3 SLR 27; and Powerdrive Pte Ltd v. Loh Kin Yong Philip and others [2018] SGHC 224.

22 See, e.g., World Fuel Services (Singapore) Pte Ltd v. Xie Sheng Guo [2019] SGHC 54, in which the court enforced a non-compete clause to protect confidential information despite there being a confidentiality clause; and Solomon Alliance Management Pte Ltd v. Pang Chee Kuan [2019] 4 SLR 577, in which the court enforced two non-compete clauses against an independent contractor by finding novel legitimate proprietary interests apart from those discussed in Section V.

23 See, e.g., HT SRL v. Wee Shuo Woon [2019] 5 SLR 245.

24 [2019] 3 SLR 399.

25 ibid., at [26], [40], [44] and [48].

26 [2012] 4 SLR 308.

27 [2014] 3 SLR 27.

28 Mano Vikrant Singh v. Cargill TSF Asia Pte Ltd [2012] 4 SLR 371.

29 Goh Seng Heng v. RSP Investments and others and another matter [2017] 3 SLR 657.

30 See 'Logistics firm fined $18,000 for making false declaration on work pass application', The Straits Times (10 March 2020), at https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/manpower/logistics-firm-fined-18000-for-making-false-declaration-on-work-pass-application (last accessed 17 December 2021).

31 See 'Strike averted after unions get aviation firm to correct retrenchment process', The Straits Times (30 July 2020), at https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/strike-averted-after-unions-get-aviation-firm-to-correct-retrenchment-process (last accessed 17 December 2021).

32 ibid.

33 Long Kim Wing v. LTX-Credence Singapore Pte Ltd [2017] SGHC 151.

34 See Sameer Rahman v. Nomura Singapore Ltd [2020] SGHC 176.

35 Report of Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers: 'Strengthening Support for Older Workers', August 2019; see also https://www.mom.gov.sg/about-us/budget-highlights-2020 (accessed 17 December 2021).

36 For example, see MOM, Advisory on retrenchment benefit payable to retrenched employees as a result of business difficulties due to COVID-19 (issued on 20 May 2020), at https://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19/advisory-on-retrenchment-benefit-to-retrenched-employees (last accessed 17 December 2021).

37 See Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (updated 17 October 2020), at https://www.mom.gov.sg/-/media/mom/documents/employment-practices/guidelines/tripartite-advisory-on-managing-excess-manpower-and-responsible-retrenchment.pdf (last accessed 17 December 2021).

38 See Tripartite Guidelines on Mandatory Retrenchment Notifications (updated 1 November 2021), at https://www.mom.gov.sg/-/media/mom/documents/employment-practices/guidelines/tripartite-guidelines-on-mandatory-retrenchment-notifications.pdf (last accessed 17 December 2021).

The Law Reviews content