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New guidelines give greater clarity on leave benefits, notice period for contract workers

Monday, June 20, 2016 - 11:54
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Employers are encouraged to grant leave benefits to term contract employees with a long-term working relationship and give sufficient notice to employees (and vice versa) before the term contract's expiry date.

EMPLOYERS are encouraged to grant leave benefits to term contract employees with a long-term working relationship and give sufficient notice to employees (and vice versa) before the term contract's expiry date, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) on Monday, with the release of their jointly developed Tripartite Guidelines on the Employment of Term Contract Employees.

Currently, employees on term contracts are entitled to statutory employment benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria. However, in terms of leave benefits for instance, some term contract employees who have been working for the same employer for a long time do not get to enjoy these leave benefits, as they are on separate contracts that are each shorter than the minimum service period of three months, and renewed with a break in between the contracts.

Under the guidelines, employers are encouraged to treat contracts of 14 days or more, and renewed within one month of the previous contract, as continuous, and grant or accrue leave benefits based on the cumulative term of the contracts.

Employers can prorate annual leave, sick leave and child-care leave benefits based on the length of the term contract.

Meanwhile, for work arrangements that involve term contracts on a recurrent basis, it is good practice for both employer and employee to give sufficient notice before the contract's expiry on whether either party wishes to renew the contract, said the alliance.

According to MOM's 2015 Labour Force Report, there were 202,400 term contract employees last year and this formed 11.3 per cent of the resident workforce.

Said Koh Juan Kiat, SNEF's executive director: "The Federation believes the guidelines will provide employers with the framework to offer term contracts which can better attract such workers. SNEF encourages employers to also take a longer term view of their manpower needs and create opportunities to retain such workers."