Scope and Ambit of the Employment Act

Employment Law Guide


Scope and Ambit of the Employment Act

Date Published: 23 March 2020 


As of 1 April 2019, the EA covers every employee (regardless of nationality) who is under a contract of service with an employer, except:-

  • any seaman;
  • any domestic worker; and
  • any person employed by a Statutory Board or the Government.

These groups of employees are protected under industry-specific legislation.

Besides the core provisions, Part IV of the EA provides ‘additional’ protection for rest days, hours of work and other conditions of service applies to certain workers (“Part IV Employees”). It applies only to:

  • workmen earning not more than a basic monthly salary of S$4,500; and
  • non-workmen covered under the EA earning not more than a basic monthly salary of S$2,600.

In general, “workmen” refers to employees engaged in manual labour, or employed partly for manual labour and partly for the purpose of supervising in person any workman in and throughout the performance of his work; but excluding any seafarer or domestic worker. Examples of workmen include: drivers, cleaners, construction workers, Labourers, machine operators and assemblers etc.

It should be noted that Part IV of the EA does not apply to any person employed in a managerial or executive position.

Employees working less than 35 hours a week are covered by the Employment (Part-Time Employees) Regulations (“Part-Time Regulations”), which provide certain flexibility for both the employer and employee, including the pro-rating of employment benefits, encashment of annual leave and provision of rest days. Please refer to section 18 below regarding part-time employees.

The EA also empowers and gives the Minister flexibility to make regulations that “regulate the conduct of an employer towards an employee, for the purposes of protecting the employee from any employment practice that may adversely affect the wellbeing of the employee.” In the second reading in parliament, the Minister cited an example involving errant practices of some employers who ask their employees to sign salary vouchers before receiving their salaries, or to sign on blank salary vouchers, either out of convenience or to cover up for late or non-payment of salaries.


Please note that this section of the Employment Law Guide is a summary provided for general information purposes, aimed at aiding understanding of Singapore’s employment law as at the date of writing. It is not exhaustive or comprehensive and reading this memorandum is not a substitute for reading the text of the various statutes to fully understand the extent of the obligations owed. This guide should also not be relied upon as legal advice.


CNPLaw’s Labour and Employment Lawyer

Pradeep Kumar Singh Admin Partner at CNPLaw

Admin Partner

Pradeep acts for corporations, whether they are private or listed companies, on all aspects of their business including advice and drafting of documentation on investments, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions and restructurings. With Pradeep co-heading the Employment and Immigration team, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2020 has commented that CNPLaw has “a solid reputation” for assisting local and foreign clients, who are employers or employees, with a range of issues.

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.

    Wong Pei Ling Senior Legal Associate at CNPLaw LLP image


    Pei-Ling has over 23 years of experience in corporate and cross-border transactions, and has advised on investments, joint-ventures and commercial transactions in Singapore and Malaysia.  Over the years, she has also developed a practice in the areas of data protection, technology and employment.

    Marvin Chua Legal Associate at CNPLaw LLP image


      Marvin is an Associate in the Corporate Advisory team. His main areas of practice include corporate advisory and general employment matters. Prior to joining CNPLaw, he trained and practised at a leading commercial law firm, under the practice areas of commercial litigation and international arbitration.

      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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