Why weren’t PMEs earning more than S$4,500 covered under the Employment Act?

Employment Act will be amended to cover all workers from April 2019.

By Joshua Lee | March 5, 2018

From April 1, 2019, professionals, managers, and executives (PMEs) who are earning more than $4,500 will be covered under the Employment Act.

This was announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say during the Committee of Supply debate for his ministry on Monday, March 5, 2018. 

But first, let’s talk about the Employment Act

Simply put, the Employment Act covers what your employer can and cannot do to you, the employee, and what basic rights you are entitled to.

It tells the employer how long they are allowed to make you work, how much overtime pay they need to compensate you, how much sick leave you are entitled to, and what redress you can take when you are wrongfully dismissed.

All workers are covered under this Act unless you are:

  • A seafarer
  • A foreign domestic worker
  • A public servant
  • A professional, manager, or executive earning more than $4,500

That’s right. Even now, this law doesn’t protect your interests — if you are one of these people. Sad.

But why?

Enacted in 1968

The Employment Act was enacted in 1968 — a time when a larger portion of the workforce consisted of manual labour or rank and file workers — and was meant to form a labour standard that would make our labour force attractive to local and foreign investments.

An MOM spokesperson told Mothership in a statement that the Employment Act did not cover professionals, managers and executives who earn more than $4,500 as they can “better negotiate their employment terms”. The reason for this was so as not to impose labour market rigidity.

Throughout the years, there have been amendments to the Act, but the latest (and biggest) will abolish the income ceiling, making the legal protection available to all workers.

Fast forward to 2018, professionals, managers, and executives make up 34 per cent of our labour force. The proportion increases to 56 per cent if we include technicians.

Since our workforce has changed over the years, it makes sense that legislation would follow suit.

Top image via Getty Images.

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