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If You’re a Contract Employee in Singapore, Don’t Let Your Employer Cheat You of These 3 Things to Which You’re Now Entitled

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Joanne Poh

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If you thought the employees toiling long hours at the office had it bad, wait till you speak with the contract staff. Not only do these folks work just as hard as everyone else, they’re often denied benefits like annual leave and bonuses.

But now, the Ministry of Manpower has stepped in and set out guidelines on the employment of contract employees, just so unscrupulous employers can stop exploiting them.

Here are three benefits that contract employees should now be receiving.

 

Leave benefits

If you’ve ever worked on a contract with no leave benefits, you know that’s a lot worse than it sounds. If you get sick and can’t drag yourself to work for one day, that means you don’t get paid. And let’s not even get started about not having any vacations to look forward to.

MOM has now made it clear that contract employees who’ve been working for a company for at least three months should receive leave benefits, including annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, childcare and extended childcare leave.

The minimum number of days of annual leave should be 7 days for the first year of employment. This should increase by 1 day with each additional year of service, up to 14 days.

If the contract is less than a year, the annual leave should be pro-rated accordingly.

Note that 7 days is the bare minimum, and if your employer really only gives you that many days he probably also tortures little kids in his spare time.

You should also receive at least 14 days of sick leave (or 60 days of hospitalisation leave).

 

Continuation of contract

Many devious employers try to flout the rules by breaking up their staffs’ contracts into multiple short ones of not more than 3 months.

So if anyone asks why they don’t give their long-time contract staff benefits, they can say their contracts are too short. I am clueless as to why these employees even put up with such treatment, but it is what it is.

But now MOM has spoken: if a contract is renewed within one month, it should be treated as one continuous contract rather than as two separate contracts.

 

Notice period

One of the most painful things about being a contract worker is that you have no idea whether you’ll be out of a job at the end of the contract or whether your employer will offer to renew the contract. You’re also constantly praying your employer will extend a permanent job offer.

Employers know they have the upper hand by keeping their contract staff on their toes, so many often wait till the last minute before announcing whether contracts will be renewed.

The guidelines state that both employee and employer should now give sufficient notice of their intention to renew the contract before it actually expires.

If the total amount of time you’re employed is less than 26 weeks, the requirement is a measly one day’s notice. Er, I guess that gives you enough advance warning to bring a cardboard box to work on your last day?

If you’ve been employed for more than 26 weeks but less than 2 years, at least one week’s notice should be given. Those employed for at least 2 years but under 5 years are entitled to at least 2 weeks’ notice, while those employed for over 5 years are entitled to at least 4 weeks’ notice… although we’re not sure what kind of poor unfortunate soul would be on a 5 year contract.

 

So in summary…

There are three things contract employees need to know about your rights:

  1. If your contract is at least 3 months long, you are entitled to leave benefits.
  2. If your contract is renewed within a month, it will be considered as one continuous contract.
  3. If your contract is more than 26 weeks, you are entitled to at least one week’s notice.

 

Have you ever been a contract worker? Share with us whether your employer flouted any of the above rules in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.