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Oral Answer by Mr Zaqy Mohamad Minister of State for Manpower to PQ on why written contracts are not mandatory under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act

NOTICE PAPER NO. 1968 OF 2019 FOR THE SITTING ON 3 FEBRUARY 2020
QUESTION NO. 3453 FOR ORAL ANSWER

MP: Assoc Prof Walter Theseira


To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) why written contracts are not mandatory for workers covered under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act; and (b) whether there are plans to make such contracts mandatory.

Answer:

  1. Under the Employment Act, employers are required to issue key employment terms (KETs) in writing to all employees. This covers all workers, whether local or foreign. The mandatory KETs, which must be provided within 14 days from the start of employment, include the job title, main duties and responsibilities, place of work, working arrangements, salary details, leave entitlements, medical benefits, probation and notice period. Employers can issue these KETs in the form of an employment contract, or employee handbook.

  2. In addition, for work permit holders, employers are required to ensure that their workers receive a copy of the In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter prior to their departure for Singapore. The IPA letter contains key employment information, including occupation, basic monthly salary, and fixed monthly allowances and deductions. This requirement is to ensure that before departing their home countries, the workers are already notified of the most critical terms of their employment. Employers are not allowed to make downward revisions to the workers’ salary information that was declared on the IPA, unless they have obtained the workers’ written agreement and notified the Ministry.

  3. The requirements to provide written KETs and IPA letters already mean that foreign workers will have sufficient clarity of the details of their employment, in written form. There is no further advantage to be gained by requiring employment contracts for foreign workers to be written. In fact, it will create an unintended outcome that if for some reason no written contract is issued, there is no employment relationship at all and the foreign worker will lose whatever protection he should be entitled to under the law.