Singapore has a very strong legal infrastructure for protecting the rights of workers, and as such, employers are subject to a number of labor and fair employment laws and regulation.
Domestic employees in Singapore are protected by the Employment Act (EA), which also outlines the responsibilities of employers to their employees, while foreign employees are covered by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA).
Employers in Singapore must also adhere to the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) and the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, which outlines requirements for employers to ensure fair hiring and employment practices.
Employment laws are overseen by the tripartite partners, a which are the Ministry of Manpower (MoM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).
Hiring Domestic Employees
Singapore maintains a merit-based employment system and prohibits discrimination against employment based on traits unrelated to the job position, including age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, and disability. It also encourages the core of the workforce to be made up primarily of Singaporean nationals, and companies are required to make all job positions open to Singaporean candidates.
Employers must evaluate candidates based on criteria related directly to the job position, such as:
- Academic qualifications;
- Prior work experience;
- Specific work-related skills; and
- Employee’s willingness to fulfill job requirements.
Due to Singapore’s strict employment requirements, companies should ensure that HR and other staff members involved the hiring process are familiar with workplace and hiring practices and are trained to identify discriminatory behavior and other legal violations.
When hiring a candidate, employers are required to provide an employment contract containing mandatory clauses. Employers must also contribute to their employees’ social insurance by paying into their Central Provident Fund (CPF).
Hiring Foreign Employees
Under the FCF and the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, Singapore imposes rules preventing companies from pre-selecting foreign candidates to ensure that domestic employers are provided with a fair opportunity to apply for a job opening.
Therefore, employers wishing to submit an application for an EP to hire a foreign employee must first advertise the position on the MyCareersFuture website and consider and evaluate all applicants fairly.
Positions advertised on the MyCareersFuture website must meet certain requirements, including:
- Must not contain any wording that discriminates against candidates based on traits unrelated to the job position, such as age, gender, race, religion, marital status, language, and nationality. If a job has specific language requirements, the reason for the requirement must be clearly stated.
- Job description must match the occupation of the EP or S Pass application.
- Salary must be clearly indicated and salary ranges must include the amount offered to the EP candidate.
- Must be visible for 28 days.
Companies that are found to violate these requirements or engage in discriminatory hiring practices may be fined or be subject to other punishments, such as having the work pass privileges curtailed.
Certain job positions and companies are exempt from advertising on the MyCareersFuture website. Exemptions are provided for:
- Companies with fewer than 10 employees;
- The fixed monthly salary of the position is S$20,000 (US$14,850) or above;
- Short-term roles of 1 month or less; or
- The role is filled through an internal transfer by an employee that is already employed locally.
Foreign students over the age of 14 who hold a Student Pass are permitted to work in Singapore without a work pass, provided they are enrolled in an approved institution.
Employing Young People and Children
Singapore restricts the type of work and labor that children and teenagers can do, and they are protected under Part VIII of the Employment Act and the Employment of Children and Young Persons Regulations.
The minimum age for children to work in Singapore is 13. Children aged 13 to 15 are permitted to do light work in non-industrial settings and are only permitted to work in industrial settings when supervised by a family member.
Minors aged 15 to 16 are permitted to work in a non-industrial setting. Companies wishing to employ children aged 15 to 16 in an industrial setting must notify the MoM of their intentions and submit a medical report within 30 days of their employment.
Minors over the age of 16 are permitted to work in industrial settings but cannot work in jobs with a high risk of personal injury. Such positions include roles that require them to service or attend to moving machinery, being near live electrical equipment, or working underground. There are also stricter limitations on the number of hours minors can work when doing manual labor.