Workplace representation

Workplace advice

All working people above 16-year-old in the energy, utilities, power and gas industries are eligible for union membership. UPAGE works on measures to preserve, protect and enhance the interests of workers in a harmonious industrial relationship. UPAGE provides employment-related assistance in the following ways:  
Union Representation for Ordinary Members (employees of unionised companies)

Besides engaging in collective bargaining for wage negotiations and collective agreements, the Union also handles grievances for Ordinary Branch members in cases of termination, dismissal, and retrenchments etc. With more graduates entering the workforce as or promoted to the ranks of Professionals , Executives and Managers (PMEs), UPAGE provides limited representation under the Industrial Relations Act to protect the rights and interests of these employees in competitive business. 

For Ordinary Members, you can refer to your branch officials in the Company.  

Employment Advice for General Branch Members (employees of non-unionised companies) 

Members from non-unionised companies in the energy, utilities, power and gas industries can seek employment advice on workplace issues ranging from workplace grievances to employment-related queries from a dedicated team of experienced Industrial Relations practitioners.

For General Branch members, you can email us or call us at 6284 8769. Our officers will get back to you soonest. 

Employment Act FAQs

It covers every employee (regardless of nationality) who is under a contract of service with an employer, except:

a. Any person employed in a managerial or executive position;

b. Any seaman;

c. Any domestic worker; and

d. Any person employed by a Statutory Board or the Government


Part IV of the Act, which provides for rest days, hours of work and other conditions of service, applies only to:

a. Workmen earning not more than $4,500 basic monthly salaries and

b. Employees earning not more than $2,000 basic monthly salaries

A workman is an employee whose work involves manual labour. This includes a worker who falls under any of the following categories:

  1. Any person, skilled or unskilled, doing manual work, including any artisan or apprentice but excluding any seaman or domestic servant;
  2. Any person, other than clerical staff, employed in the operation or maintenance of mechanically propelled vehicles that transport passengers, for hire or commercial purposes;
  3. Any person employed to supervise any workman and perform manual work. However, this is subject to the requirement that the time spent on manual work must be more than half of the total working time in a salary period; or
  4. Any person specified in the First Schedule of the Employment Act, namely:
  • Construction workers;
  • Cleaners Labourers;
  • Machine operators and assemblers;
  • Metal and machinery workers;
  • Train,bus, lorry and van drivers;
  • Train and bus inspectors;
  • and All workmen employed on piece rates at the employer's premises.

It covers both local and foreign employees. It does not make any distinction between a temporary employee, contract employee, daily-rated employee or employee on tenured employment.

Managers and executives are employees with executive or supervisory functions, including the authority to influence or make decision on issues such as recruitment, discipline, termination of employment, assessment of performance and reward, involvement in the formulation of strategies and policies of the enterprise or involvement in the management and running of the business.

In deciding whether an employee is in a managerial, executive or confidential position, the law will look at the job duties and not the job title.

Junior managers and executives earning $4,500 basic monthly salary and below are only covered partially on the basic payment of salary. All other provisions in the Employment Act do not apply to them.

An executive employee working in a unionised company may join the rank and file union in his/her company for limited representation rights under the Industrial Relations Act for retrenchment, dismissal, breach of contract and victimization.

The Employment Act does not cover all terms and conditions of an employment contract. It only covers some of the basic terms and conditions.

You will still need to draw up your own employment contracts to spell out the rights and duties of your employees. However, if the employee is protected under the Employment Act, the terms in your contract cannot be less favourable than those in the Employment Act.

Here are some of the basic terms covered in the Employment Act:

  • hours of work
  • shift work
  • overtime
  • rate of overtime payment
  • salary and bonus
  • rest days
  • public holidays
  • sick leave
  • annual leave
  • retrenchment benefits
  • retirement benefits
  • maternity benefits
  • childcare leave
  • termination and notice

A contract of service is any agreement whether in writing or verbal, expressed or implied, whereby:

  • One person agrees to employ another as an employee; and
  • The other person agrees to serve the employer as an employee.

An apprenticeship contract or agreement is also considered a contract of service. A contract of service can be in the form of a letter of appointment/employment.

The employer cannot change the terms and conditions of employment unless the employee agrees to it. Any terms and conditions of employment, in a contract of service, that is less favourable than the relevant provision under the Employment Act is illegal, null and void. The provision in the Act will take precedence over a particular contractual term that is less favourable.

There is no provision in the Employment Act on the conditions for the confirmation of an employee in his job. An employee's confirmation will depend on the terms spelt out in the employment contract. However, the length of an employee's service is calculated from the date on which the employee starts work and not the date of confirmation.

However, an employee who has worked for at least 3 months shall be entitled to pro-rated paid sick leave and annual leave regardless of his/her probation period.

An employee is entitled to Annual Leave if they meet the following conditions:

•  He/she is covered under Part IV of the Employment Act

•  He/she has worked for at least three months

An employee's annual leave entitlement under Part IV of the Employment Act is as follows:

Year of service

Days of leave















8th and thereafter


If an employee has a contract which provides for more days of annual leave entitlement than above, the contract will supersede the Employment Act. Where an employee's year of service begins from the day he/she started work with the employer.

The employer may grant the employee unpaid leave, if the employee is not eligible for annual leave or has used up his annual leave.

The employee’s annual leave entitlement should be in proportion to the number of completed months of service in that year (If the employee has been in service for at least three months).

The annual leave should be pro-rated using the following formula:

(No of months in service/12) x 7 days

Periods of no pay leave should not be included when computing annual leave entitlement.

An employee's annual leave entitlement can be forfeited if he/she:

  1. Absents him/herself from work without permission or reasonable excuse for more than 20% of the working days in a month or year, as the case may be
  2. Fails to take his/her leave within 12 months after the end of 12 months of continuous service
  3. Is dismissed on the grounds of misconduct

Instead of forfeiting leave, the employer may at his/her discretion, encash the leave at the gross rate of pay based on the employee's last drawn salary.

If the termination of an employee's service is not on account of misconduct, the employer must pay him/her for every day of leave not taken, at the gross rate of pay based on the employee's last drawn.

You are entitled to paid sick leave, including medical leave issued by a dentist if you:

  1. Served the employer for at least three months;
  2. Informed or attempted to inform the employer of his/her absence within 48 hours.
  3. The sick leave is certified by the company's doctor, or by a government doctor if a company doctor is not readily available, or during emergency situations.

The amount of paid outpatient and hospitalisation sick leave that an employee can take is capped at

  • 14 days of outpatient sick leave
  • Max of 60 days for those who completed at least 6 months of service)

The number of days of paid sick leave a new employee is entitled to depends on his service period:

No of months of service completed of a new employee

Paid Outpatient non-hospitalisation Leave (days)

Paid hospitalisation Leave (days)*

3 months



4 months

5 + 3 = 8

15 + 15 = 30

5 months

8 + 3 = 11

30 + 15 = 45

6 months

11 + 3 = 14

45 + 15 = 60




* An employee is deemed to be hospitalised if he/she is certified by a doctor to be in need of hospitalization. He does not necessarily have to be warded in a hospital.

If an employee has worked for at least three months, his employer is legally obliged to bear the medical consultation fee.

For other medical costs, such as medication, treatment or ward charges, the employer is obliged to bear such costs depending on the medical benefits provided for in the employee's employment contract or the collective agreement signed between the company with the Union.

No, he is not entitled to even if a medical leave is given by the doctor. However, he is entitled to claim for the medical examination fee.

If an employee is sick but have used up his/her sick leave entitlement, the employer can:

  1. Allow the employee to go on extended no-pay leave for an agreed period;
  2. Make other working arrangements that are acceptable to both parties
  3. Obtain a medical assessment of the employee's suitability for continued employment.

If the employee is certified unfit for continued employment, the employer can terminate his/her services. In such a situation, the contract is deemed to be frustrated. The employer can compensate the employee:

  1. Based on what is provided for in the employment contract or Collective Agreement; or
  2. By making an ex-gratia payment to him/her on goodwill basis.

Eligibility under the Children Development Co-Savings Act

The Children Development Co-Savings Act covers parents of Singapore Citizen children, including managerial, executive and confidential staff.

You are entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave under the Children Development Co-Savings Act if

  • Your child is a Singapore Citizen;
  • You are lawfully married; and
  • You have served her employer for at least 90 days before the child's birth.

If you are not covered by the Children Development Co-Savings Act but is covered under the Employment Act, you will still be entitled to maternity leave.

Eligibility under the Employment Act

An employee who is covered under the Employment Act, but not under the Children Development Co-Savings Act, will be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave if she has served her employer for at least 9- days before the birth of the child, regardless of her nationality.

She will be paid by her employer for the first 8 weeks of maternity leave if she has fewer than 2 living children (excluding the newborn). The last four weeks of maternity leave can be taken flexibly over a 12-month period from the child’s birth.

An employee on fixed term contract, temporary or part-time employment is entitled to 16 weeks of maternity leave if she meets the eligibility conditions under the Children Development Co-Savings Act, or 12 weeks of maternity leave if she satisfies the eligibility conditions under the Employment Act. If she is eligible for paid maternity leave, she will be paid at the gross rate for each day that she would normally have been required to work under her contract of service.

The first 4 weeks of maternity leave immediately after delivery of child is compulsory.

Ways that maternity leave can be taken

  • Take the 16 weeks of maternity leave continuously
  • Take the last 8 weeks flexibly within 12 months from the birth of the child upon mutual agreements between the employee and the employer.

Unused maternity leave will not be able to carry over to new company.

No, a female employee may not be served a notice of dismissal while she is on maternity leave. The employer will be liable to a fine and/or imprisonment

However, this does not apply if the employee is taking an extended 4-week maternity leave stretching over a period of time.


However, if the notice of dismissal is given without sufficient cause within 3 months of her "confinement", her employer must compensate her for the maternity benefits that she would otherwise have been eligible for.

The above only applies to employees protected under the Employment Act. If the employee falls outside the Employment Act, then you should refer to the terms of the employment contract. You can also contact the Union at 6440 2338 or email us.

Section 18A of the Employment Act deals with transfer of employment where an undertaking or part of an undertaking is transferred from one person to another. These rules apply only to employees who fall within the definition of "employee" in the Employment Act.

Yes. Under the Employment Act, the employer may do so if there is a restructuring of the organisation.

Restructuring includes: 

  • merger
  • take-over
  • sale of parts of the employer's operation
  • setting up a subsidiary company

The above only applies to employees protected under the Employment Act, If the employee falls outside the Employment Act, then you should refer to the terms of the employment contract. 

Employers cannot change the terms and conditions of employment, unless his employee agrees to it.

If the employee does not agree to the changes, he should bring up the matter to his employer and try to negotiate for an acceptable agreement to both parties.

If there is no agreement to the dispute, either party may choose to end the employment relationship by serving the appropriate notice to the other party.

Industrial Relations FAQs

An “executive employee” is defined as someone who is employed in a managerial or an executive position. Only an executive employee working in a unionised company may join the rank and file union in that company for limited representation rights.

However, the following categories of executives are excluded and cannot be represented by a rank and file union if they:-

a) are employed in a senior management position or performs or exercises any function, duty or power of a person employed in a senior management position, including the control and supervision of major business operations, accountability for operational performance, formulation of business policies, plans and strategies and provision of leadership to other employees;

b) perform or exercise any function, duty or power which includes decision making, or the power to substantially influence decision making, on any industrial matters including the employment, termination of employment, promotion, transfer, reward or discipline of other employees;

c) perform any function or duty which includes representing the employer in any negotiation relating to any industrial matters;

d) have access to confidential information relating to the budget and finances of the employer, any industrial relations matter or the salaries and personal records of other employees; or

e) perform or exercise any other function, duty or power which may give rise to a real or potential conflict of interest if he is represented by the trade union.

Rank and file unions can represent executives on an individual basis for the following purposes only:
a) in appeals against wrongful dismissals under S.35(2) of the Industrial Relations Act;
b) negotiations for retrenchment benefits;
c) breach of employment contracts; and
d) victimisation arising out of a contravention of S.82 of the Industrial Relations Act.

Yes. Executives working in the same company as the rank and file employees can join the union as Ordinary Member and can therefore hold office in the Union. They are distinct from General Branch members who under the unions’ constitutions cannot hold office.

Yes. A union leader who is an executive employee can enter into collective bargaining for the rank and file members. However, the said union leader can only represent executives in their individual capacities and in respect of dismissals, retrenchments, breach of employment contract or victimisation.

From February 2011, a new employment dispute resolution mechanism will be in place to help professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) and their employers to resolve disputes through mediation in the following areas:

i. Salary claims

ii. Issues arising from individual employment contract

iii. Retrenchment benefits

Under this mechanism, it is compulsory for the employer involved to attend the mediation session at the Ministry of Manpower. An employer shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 if it fails to attend the session without a reasonable excuse. If the employee fails to attend the mediation session without reasonable excuse, his/her claim will be struck off.

PMEs need to satisfy all the following criteria to be eligible for this process:

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(i) Earning not more than $4,500 per month

(ii) Is a member of a registered employee trade union for at least 6 months and

(iii) Is not eligible for full/limited union representation

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