Amendment to the Industrial Relations Act and related amendments to the Retirement and Re-employment Act and the Trade Unions Act



Amendment to the Industrial Relations Act and related amendments to the Retirement and Re-employment Act and the Trade Unions Act

Date Published: 1 June 2015

Author and Contributor: Bill Jamieson and Manisha Rai.


  • Extends the scope of union representation on a collective basis for executives
  • Allows limited representation on an individual basis to re-employment matters

From 1 April 2015, professionals, managers and executives (“PMEs”) may be collectively represented as a group by rank-and-file unions under the amended Industrial Relations Act.

The amendments will mean PMEs can enjoy a wider set of union representation compared to the past when they were only represented by the same unions on an individual basis and for limited matters. The new laws also mean PMEs can turn to unions for representation if they face re-employment issues. The amendments are in response to the rise in the number of PMEs in Singapore, who now constitute 30% of Singapore’s workforce.

To avoid conflict of interest and any threat to management effectiveness, the following executive employees will not benefit from union representation:

  • A senior management employee or an employee who has control and supervision, accountability, planning and/or leadership responsibilities
  • An employee with decision making powers on industrial matters (including employment)
  • An employee representing the employer in negotiations with the union
  • An employee with access to confidential information on the budget and finances of the employer and any industrial matters (including employment).

It will not be an offence for an employer to require, as a condition of the appointment or promotion of a person to a position of an executive employee that the person must not be or continue to be an officer or a member of a rank and file trade union. It is still an offence for an employer to offer inducements, such as financial advantages, to persuade employees not to join trade unions.

MOM released The Tripartite Guidelines on Extending The Scope of Union Representation For Executives and The Tripartite Guidelines on Expanding The Scope of Limited Representation for Executives to explain how employers can actively engage with trade unions as partners and to work together on matters relating to trade disputes and union representation.

MOM’s press release is available here and for the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015, please contact us.



Disclaimer: This update is provided to you for general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice.


CNPLaw’s Labour and Employment Lawyer

Bill Jamieson is a Partner at CNPLaw LLP. Bill is an English lawyer who is also registered to practise Singapore law in the areas of corporate law, banking and finance and securities laws. He enjoys working in the diverse and dynamic Asian market and helping his clients to achieve their goals.

    Bill’s practice focuses on corporate financing transactions, investment funds, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and employment law matters. His experience includes 10 years in the City of London and over 20 years in Asia. Before joining CNP, Bill was a partner in a well-known international law firm. He is recommended lawyer for Corporate and M&A, Banking and Finance, Investment Funds and Labour and Employment in Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2021. Bill is one of the firm’s contacts for Interlaw, a network of independent full-service corporate law firms ranked by Chambers and Partners in its highest category, “Elite”, amongst all global law firm networks.

    Employment issues are of fundamental concern to both individuals and corporations alike. This is especially so given the growing emphasis on human capital development across the world. Such issues involve an intricate interplay between commercial objectives and normative considerations. Here at CNPLaw, our lawyers strive to help our clients find the balance required to nurture a positive working environment. We advise both employers and employees (whether local or foreign) on the areas below.

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