Legal Resources

UWEEI EPC has consolidated a library of information related to your rights and obligations as an employee. Please click on the bullet points for more information.

Are executives covered by Employment Act?


A manager or executive earning basic monthly salary of $4,500* and below are covered only under certain sections of the Employment Act, specifically:

Section 20            : Salary period

Section 20A         : Computation of salary for incomplete month of work

Section 21            : Time for payment of salary

Section 22            : Payment on dismissal

Section 23            : Payment on termination by employee

Section 24            : Income tax clearance

Section 25            : Payment of salary to be made during working hours

Section 34            : Any employer failing to pay salary in accordance with Part III of the Employment Act shall be guilty of an offence.

Part XII                 : Registers, Returns and Other Documentary Requirements

Part XIII                : Inspection and Enquiry

Part XIV                : General

Part XV                 : Claims, Complaints and Investigations into Offences

Hence, a manager or executive earning $4,500* and below can seek Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) intervention to recover salary arrears provided that dispute took place within the last 12 months from the date which the claim is lodged with MOM.

For disputes arising out of or as a result of termination of the employment contract (eg. notice pay and pay in-lieu for unutilised annual leave) claims must be lodged within 6 months from date of termination.
Executives and Managers earning above $4,500* are not covered by Employment Act.

*Effective February 2011

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Can the union represent/help the executives?

Under Industrial Relations Act, a rank-and-file union may represent an executive individually, and not as a group, in the following areas:

a.     Unfair dismissal
b.     Retrenchment benefits
c.     Breach of contract by employer or employee
d.     Victimisation (dismissed, downgraded, etc) in circumstances related to participation in trade union activities or any matter referred to points (b) or (c)

The union and union member can refer the dispute to MOM if no resolution can be reached at company level. If no agreement could be reached through conciliation at MOM, union or company’s management can request for the dispute to be escalated to the Industrial Arbitration Court.

An employer may object to above representation if the executive employee:

i.     Is employed in a senior management position;

ii.     Has the right to hire, fire, promote, transfer and reward or discipline other employee;

iii.     Represents the employer in any negotiation relating to any industrial relations matter;

iv.     Has access to confidential information relating to the budget and finances of the employer, any industrial relations matter or the salaries and personal records of other employees; or

v.     Performs or exercises any other function, duty or power which may give rise to a real or potential conflict of interest if he is represented by the trade union.

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Recourse channels for executives having employment disputes

For executives who are having employment disputes with their employers, 4 recourse channels are available to them. One of the channels is to sue their employer under common law but this is a costly process. 3 other channels available to executives are depicted in the diagram below.

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Employment Dispute Resolution Mechanisms for PMEs

From February 2011, a new employment dispute resolution mechanism will be in place to help professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) and their employers to resolve disputes through mediation in the following areas:
i.         Salary claims

ii.         Issues arising from individual employment contract

iii.         Retrenchment benefits

Under this mechanism, it is compulsory for the employer involved to attend the mediation session at the Ministry of Manpower. An employer shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 if it fails to attend the session without a reasonable excuse. If the employee fails to attend the mediation session without reasonable excuse, his/her claim will be struck off.

PMEs need to satisfy all the following criteria to be eligible for this process:

(i)     Earning not more than $4,500 per month

(ii)   Is a member of a registered employee trade union for at least 6 months and

(iii)  Is not eligible for full/limited union representation

To initiate the resolution process, the eligible PME can approach NTUC General Branch (GB) Unit. Hotline: 6213 8008.

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Is it a must for employers to pay retrenchment benefits in Singapore?

No, it is not a legal obligation for employers to pay retrenchment benefits in Singapore.

For employees covered under Employment Act, they are eligible to ask for retrenchment benefits if they have worked in the company for at least 3 years. However, the discretion to pay and the amount payable lies with the employer.

Employees working in executive and managerial positions are excluded from this clause of the Employment Act.

However, tripartite guidelines do state that the norm for quantum of retrenchment benefits is one month’s salary for each year of service. They recommend a cap of 25 years of service for the computation of the retrenchment benefits. Tripartite guidelines do not distinguish between executive and non-executive employees.

If you are encountering issues in the area of retrenchment benefits, you can approach us for advice. Under the Singapore’s Industrial Relations Act, the union can represent an executive employee to negotiate with your employer (if it is a unionised company) in 4 areas – (i) retrenchment benefits; (ii) breach of contract; (iii) unfair dismissal and (iv) victimisation.

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Maternity leave for executives

A female employee in a managerial or executive position is entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave if she satisfies all the following criteria:

i.         The child is a Singapore Citizen

ii.         The female employee is lawfully married to the child’s father

iii.         The female employee has worked for the employer for at least 90 calendar days

Can the employer dismiss/terminate the employee on maternity leave?

No, it is an offence for employer to dismiss/terminate the worker when she is taking her maternity leave. The employer will be liable to a fine and/or imprisonment


How the maternity leave can be taken?

The first 4 weeks of maternity leave immediately after delivery of child is compulsory.

Ways that maternity leave can be taken

  • Take the 16 weeks of maternity leave continuously
  • Take the last 8 weeks flexibly within 12 months from the birth of the child upon mutual agreements between the employee and the employer.

Unused maternity leave will not be able to carry over to new company.

Can an employer deny the eligible female employee from maternity leave?

No, it is illegal for the employer to do so. The employer will liable to a fine and/or imprisonment.

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Childcare Leave

Each working parent with at least one Singapore Citizen child under the age of 7 years will be entitled to a maximum of 6 days of childcare leave per year. Unconsumed childcare leave cannot be brought forward to the next year or en-cashed.

If the employee changes employer within the year, the maximum days of childcare leave available to him/her is still 6 days per year.

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Compensation for injuries suffered during course of employment

All employees will be able to claim for compensation under Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) if they sustain injuries or died in an accident arising out of and in the course of employment. Under this Act, compensation is generally payable regardless of who is at fault. The amount of compensation is, however, capped.

Under WICA, an injured employee is entitled to claim medical leave wages, medical expenses and compensation for permanent incapacity or death, if applicable.

An employee can choose to purse his claim under the WICA or through civil lawsuit. If the employee chose to pursue the claim under the WICA, he/she is not allowed to seek further damages from his employer through civil lawsuit.

For details on amount of compensation and claim process, download the Guide to the Work Injury Compensation Benefits and Claim Process here

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Salary Arrears

Union members (regardless of salary levels) can seek union assistance to recover salary arrears. Employer may object to such representation for the group of employees listed here

Non-union member who is in a managerial or executive positions and are earning $4,500* and below can seek Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) intervention to recover salary arrears provided that the dispute took place within the last 12 months from the date which the claim is lodged with MOM.

*Effective February 2011

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