The Employment (Amendment) Act 2015 has been passed in Parliament on 17 August 2015 and gazetted on 21 August 2015. The Employment (Amendment) Act 2015 will amend the Employment Act to require employers to make and keep records of employees (in place of a register of employees and record of workmen) and give a written record of key employment terms (“KETs”) and pay slips to employees covered under the Employment Act. These changes are not yet in force.

The Employment (Amendment) Act 2015 also makes some operational changes to the Employment Act. These operational changes are operative from 22 August 2015.

Itemised pay slips, written KETs and employee records

Itemised pay slips

Employers may choose to provide itemised pay slips in soft or hard copy, but they must be issued at least once a month and given together with the salary payment, or at the latest, within three working days of salary payment. The employer must be able to produce the pay slips at the request of the Ministry of Manpower (the “MOM”). The MOM has provided guidance on the matters to be itemised in the pay slips, e.g. basic salary, and start and end date of each salary period. Employers are to keep a record of all pay slips issued. In the case of current employees, they are to be kept for two years. For former employees, they are to be kept for one year following the employee’s departure.

Written KETs

Employers will have to comply with the new requirement of providing employees with a written record of KETs. This requirement only applies in respect of employees who are covered under the Employment Act, who are newly employed on or after 1 April 2016, and who have been employed for a continuous period of 14 days of more. The MOM has also provided guidance as to what must be included in the record of KETs. As with itemised pay slips, KETs may be provided in hard or soft copy and may be incorporated in an employee handbook or company intranet.

Employee records

Employers have to make and keep employee records containing prescribed particulars of every employee employed as well as former employees. These records are to be complete and accurate and made readily accessible to the relevant employees or former employees during the record retention period.

Administrative penalty framework

An administrative penalty framework will be introduced in the Employment Act which will provide for administrative penalties for less severe breaches of the Employment Act. For a start, administrative penalties will be imposed for failures to provide itemised pay slips and written KETs, failure to meet the record keeping requirements, and giving inaccurate information without fraudulent intent to MOM officers. There will be no criminal record for employers in breach of these obligations.

Implementation timeline

The new requirements relating to itemised pay slips, KETs and employee records, as well as the administrative penalty framework are slated to take effect from 1 April 2016. However, in view ofthe feedback from small businesses, the MOM will provide a one-year grace period in its enforcement. During this period, the MOM will take a light touch enforcement approach focusing on helping employers meet these requirements.

Operational changes

The Employment Act has also been amended to implement some operational changes. The following changes took effect from 22 August 2015:

  • A new provision is introduced providing for the return to the owner of evidence that is no longer needed for investigations, which has been the MOM’s practice. Where this is not possible, e.g. where the owner cannot be located or the evidence is an illegal item, the MOM may now report such evidence to the courts so that it can be disposed of properly.
  • Currently, the Employment Act allows inspecting officers to take photos or video recordings of premises and persons for purposes of investigations under the Employment Act. The Act is amended to allow the taking of audio recordings as well for investigation purposes.
  • An employee’s entitlement to a paid holiday is clarified to include all public holidays declared by the Government such as the SG 50 Public Holiday and polling days, and not just the public holidays scheduled under the Holidays Act.
  • The Employment Act is also amended to make it clear that employers are not required to provide paid family-related leave to employees who are granted voluntary no-pay leave. This is to encourage employers to grant no pay leave to employees to cater to their family or personal needs.

Consequential amendments have been made to the Child Development Co-Savings Act and the Employment, Parental Leave and Other Measures Act 2013.

Reference materials

The following materials are available from the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg:

An article about the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2015 when it was introduced in Parliament was featured in a previous issue of the Allen & Gledhill Legal Bulletin (July 2015). To read the article entitled “Employment (Amendment) Bill 2015 introduced in Parliament: Employers to keep employee records and provide employees with written record of key employment terms and pay slips”, please click here.