Employee benefits in Singapore are mostly covered by the Employment Act (EA), although its provisions do not apply to all employees and workers. The Act’s definition of ‘employees’ does not include executive and managerial staff, domestic staff, seamen and most government employees. Foreign companies hiring employees in Singapore must operate within this complex framework of legislation, which provides safeguards and guarantees for the workforce.
The responsibilities of foreign companies reach further than simply complying with tax, social security and payroll regulations. Failure to comply with specific regulations applying to benefits and entitlements runs the risk of fines and sanctions. In Singapore, contravention of the rules can result in companies being barred from hiring employees who require a Work Pass. It is vital that employers have a firm grasp of what is guaranteed for their employees, as this will affect the employer-employee relationship.
It is a complex picture. This is where Bradford Jacobs steps in to point you in the right direction, drawing on over 20 years of experience as a Professional Employment Organisation (PEO) and Employer of Record (EOR).
Singapore’s Employment Act (EA) covers the obligations of employers and the rights of employees covered by the Act but does not apply to all classes of workers. As of 2022, the Act’s definition of ‘employees’ does not include executive and managerial staff, domestic staff, seamen and most government employees.
Additionally, the Ministry of Manpower issues ‘guidelines’ that employers are expected to follow at the risk of fines and sanctions for infringement. Penalties can include losing the right to obtain Work Passes to employ non-Singaporeans. Apart from the guidelines issued by the MOM, tripartite agreements have a significant role in employment relations in Singapore and operate between employers, trade unions and the government.
Legislation relating to employee benefits in Singapore includes:
In Singapore, employers need to be up to speed with responsibilities to their staff over benefits, compensation and minimum requirements. Do not risk paying penalties or facing sanctions for ignoring these responsibilities, as companies can lose the right to hire staff.
The Employment Act largely governs minimum standards compensation entitlements, covering maternity and paternity leave, sick leave, termination, severance, overtime, paid vacations, notice periods and probation. The benefits listed apply to employees covered by the Employment Act (EA).
Guaranteed mandatory benefits, entitlements and compensation in Singapore are covered by the Employment Act (EA) for most of the nationwide workforce. However, the EA does not apply to all workers under the Act’s definition of ‘employees’. For example, the EA does not include executive and managerial staff, domestic staff, seamen and most government employees.
Maternity / Paternity Leave: Mothers whose child will be a Singapore citizen receive 16 weeks, with their full salary paid by the employer for the first eight weeks, which is reclaimed from the government and by the Government-Paid Maternity Leave (GPML) scheme for the remaining weeks. Fathers have two weeks of paternity leave in the 12 months after the birth, with benefits capped at SGD 2,500 (€1,700, US$1,855) for each working week. This applies to first and second children, with the GPML paying all 16 weeks for subsequent children.
Sick Leave: Employees are entitled to 14 days of outpatient leave and 60 days of hospitalization leave if they have worked for the employer for at least three months.
Paid Vacations: Employment Act employees receive seven days of paid annual leave for the first 12 months of continuous service. An extra day is added for each subsequent 12-month service with the same employer for up to 14 days.
Sickness Benefit: Claimants must be covered by the Employment Act and have worked for their employer for at least three months. They must notify the employer within 48 hours and have been certified unfit for work by a registered medical practitioner.
The Central Provident Fund is the central pillar of Singapore’s comprehensive social insurance framework, serving healthcare, housing and retirement needs. Employer and employee contributions fund the mandatory system into the MediSave element of the scheme.
Employers contribute 17% of an employee’s regular monthly wage from its payroll, with the employee contributing 20%, capped for each at SGD 6,000 (€4,010, US$4,394). Employers’ maximum contribution is, therefore, SGD 1,020 (€682, US$747); employees’ maximum contribution is SGD 1,200 (€800, US$880).
In addition to MediSave, Singapore’s universal health system is based on MediShield Life – mandatory for citizens and permanent residents to cover large hospital and outpatient bills, and MediFund – a government ‘safety net’ in addition to provisions of MediSave.
For more information, download our free guide or get in touch with our consultants here