NTUC proposing changes to cover PMEs, low-wage workers

HRM 12 Nov 2012

The labour movement in Singapore has compiled a list of changes it would like to see in the upcoming review of the Employment Act.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has proposed widening the scope of coverage for professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), as well as enhancing the protection of vulnerable groups of workers.

With the percentage of PMEs going up, the NTUC is aiming for at least half of the 630,000 PMEs in the resident workforce to be covered by the Employment Act. Right now, only PMEs whose basic pay is $4,500 or less have access to the Labour Court for salary claims.

For a start, the NTUC is proposing that the salary ceiling of non-workmen, or non-manual workers, to be increased from the current $2,000. This will enable more workers to benefit from Part IV of the Act, which covers overtime payments, retrenchment benefits and annual leave.

Other suggestions were also made to ensure that vulnerable groups of workers receive better protection in the Employment Act. These include ensuring low-wage workers have employment contracts and payslips and lowering the number of years needed before workers receive retrenchment benefits.

In addition, NTUC is also pushing for greater clarity on hours of work/rest for shift workers and better protection of workers who had a transfer of employment.

Other possible enhanced areas of protection could also cover outsourced workers, short-term contract staff and freelancers.

“At the end of the day, we want to expand coverage and make sure that the majority of the workforce benefit,” says Patrick Tay, Director for NTUC Legal Services and PME Unit. “With the new changes, we don’t want to take two steps forward and one step back.”

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