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Incidence of misclassification of employees low

  • The Straits Times (23 June 2018): Tactics to avoid paying workers overtime are deceitful
  • The Straits Times (27 June 2018): Overtime pay tied to salary, less to job title

Incidence of misclassification of employees low
- The Straits Times, 3 July 2018

  1. We refer to the letters (“Tactics to avoid paying workers overtime are deceitful”, 23 Jun) and (“Overtime pay tied to salary, less to job title, 27 Jun).
  2. Under our employment laws, an employee is entitled to overtime pay when two key criteria are met. First, he must not be employed in a managerial or executive position. Second, his basic pay must be $4,500 or less if he is a workman or $2,500 or less if he is a non-workman. If the employee is statutorily entitled to overtime pay, the rate payable must be at least 1.5 times his hourly basic rate of pay if the overtime work is required by the employer. Overtime payment cannot be substituted with time off.
  3. MOM takes a serious view of employers who misclassify employees in order to avoid their statutory obligations and will take stern action against such errant employers. The incidence of misclassification has been consistently low in relation to other complaints. In 2017, the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) received about 50 claims from workers who felt that they had been wrongly classified as a Manager or Executive (M&E) and unlawfully denied statutory entitlements such as overtime pay. This constituted less than 1% of all cases received by TADM. 
  4. In handling such misclassification cases, the employee’s job title is not a relevant factor. Rather, each case is assessed individually based on the specific scope of the job, such as the level of authority and decision-making powers in the management of business functions, recruitment, discipline, termination of employment and staff performance and reward. In about 90% of the 50 claims last year, MOM/TADM found the worker’s complaint to be substantiated and ordered the employers to make due compensation. 
  5. Employees who have been improperly classified as an M&E should come forward to TADM as soon as possible to allow a proper assessment to be made.

Then Yee Thoong (Mr)
Divisional Director
Labour Relations and Workplaces Division
Ministry of Manpower

 Tactics to avoid paying workers overtime are deceitful
 - The Straits Times, 23 June 2018
  1. Misclassifying employees in order to make them not qualify for overtime pay is indeed a deceitful tactic to shortchange workers ('PMEs' with inflated titles shortchanged, says labour MP; June 21).
  2. It is not uncommon to meet an assistant manager who does not manage anyone, a store manager who sweeps floors and stocks shelves, or a vice-president who is not in charge of anything.
  3. This is just one of the tricks employers use just because the company does not want to pay them extra.
  4. Another trick is to require employees to arrive early to boot up computers, configure programs or do some other preparation so they are ready to go when their working hours officially start.
  5. Such work may take up to 30 minutes or more. Workers may similarly have to stay back after their working hours to shut down the system.
  6. Others who are in customer service have to take any call that comes in during their shift, but have to stay until the matter is resolved, even if it is after their shift ends.
  7. All this results in them working longer than the eight hours that they are officially scheduled and paid to do.
  8. Some workers are given time off later instead of being paid for the extra hours worked.
  9. Is such compensation legal? What are the consequences of violating the rules on overtime pay?
  10. Workers should track all the hours they have worked and all the work they did.
  11. If they are given fancy job titles that do not accurately describe what they really do, they should report it to the Ministry of Manpower to determine if it is a misclassification.
  12. Employees should note that every term in a contract which provides a condition of service that is less favourable to them than those prescribed under the Employment Act is illegal, null and void.

 Overtime pay tied to salary, less to job title
 - The Straits Times, 27 June 2018

  1. The report about professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) being shortchanged from inflated titles addled my brain ('PMEs' with inflated titles shortchanged, says labour MP; June 21).
  2. It seemed to suggest that PMEs are a gullible lot.
  3. If our PMEs in Singapore sense that they are being exploited or shortchanged, they would not accept a job offer.
  4. If the scope of work changes drastically soon after a job offer was accepted and the affected PME feels shortchanged, he could discuss it over with the management to clarify things and, if necessary, seek advice from the relevant authorities.
  5. In an open economy like ours, our PMEs would also be able to take their in-demand skills elsewhere.
  6. Overtime compensation is subject to Ministry of Manpower (MOM) regulations. This rule is also tied to base salary.
  7. While overtime pay eligibility as detailed in the Employment Act is tied to designations and responsibilities, it has less to do with titles per se.
  8. An employee can hold the title of an executive or manager, but if the salary is below the stipulated overtime pay guideline, the organisation would then need to pay for overtime (or arrange other forms of non-financial compensation) unless otherwise agreed by both parties.
  9. A good example would be operating environments of start-ups or early-stage organisations.
  10. It was also noted that the National Trades Union Congress would be working with MOM to review existing rules. I hope not too much attention is focused on this current "plight" of PMEs.