MOM no plans to change minimum annual leave, urges employers to review benefits 'holistically'

Status quo.

Julia Yee | April 03, 2024, 06:32 PM



The government has no plans to raise the minimum annual leave entitlement but asks employers to consider employment benefits "holistically" and flexible work arrangements to ensure productivity.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon addressed the issue in parliament on Apr. 3, 2024, following a parliamentary question filed by Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng, who'd previously touched on the issue during the Budget 2022 debates.

Remarking that Ng has been "quite passionate" about this topic, Koh thanked him for raising the question once again.

"There are no plans to review the annual leave entitlements for now," Koh replied.

He explained the government's decision.

Annual leave increases each year

Koh pointed out that while the Employment Act stipulates a minimum entitlement of seven days of annual leave, this number climbs by one day per year of service with the same employer.

Image via MOM's website

He shared that in 2022, over 90 per cent of full-time resident employees aged 25 to 64 had more than seven days of annual leave.

In addition, 64.6 per cent of full-time resident employees in the same age group had 15 days or more of annual leave — higher than 61.1 per cent in 2018.

Urges employers to consider other benefits "holistically"

"Annual leave entitlements must be seen alongside other entitlements that similarly support employees and their work and personal needs," added Koh.

Said entitlements include paid public holidays, sick leave, and parental leave.

Employers must also take into account the impact on business costs when reviewing the leave entitlement, he said.

He encouraged more employers to review their employment benefits "holistically" to "better attract and retain talent in our currently tight labour market".

Does taking leave affect productivity?

If the issue is looked at from a "simplistic" and "direct" perspective, Koh said that increasing the leave entitlement would raise "some form of business costs".

"If more people do go on more leave, then the company's operations will require some backfilling, which may then require them to actually hire more extra people to actually backfill the persons who are on leave."

However, he added that having more annual leave is not the "only way" to let employees get more rest and, therefore, become more productive at work.

"Productivity can come from many ways," he said, pointing to things like better training, job redesigning, and equipment.

Flexible work arrangements

Koh also said flexible work arrangements would allow people to balance their work and personal needs.

To this, Ng countered that while some people may have the "luxury" of flexible work arrangements, this might not be the case for some low income workers.

"I want to assure the member that we will continue to look at how to best support our lower earning workers, including how we can make sure that they have a proper work-rest cycle," Koh replied.

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Top images via MCI, MOM and Matt Wildbore/Unsplash