Singapore: Payroll Tax Enforcement Strengthened

This complete global solution for HR professionals combines custom research, strategic white papers, country primers, webinars, and the expert guidance you’ve come to expect from...

By Michael Mackey

June 2—The Singapore government has increased oversight of payroll-related tax issues and will add new reporting requirements effective in 2016, the Ministry of Manpower tells Bloomberg BNA.

“In addition to stepping up enforcement, MOM has announced . . . we will also be making it mandatory for employers to issue itemized payslips and written key employment terms (KET) in 2016,” a spokesman said in an e-mail response to questions submitted by Bloomberg BNA. “This is an upstream measure to prevent salary disputes.”

Under its WorkRight Program, the ministry is trying to ensure better protection for workers, particularly those on low pay and those deemed vulnerable, and to deter errant employers, the spokesman said. MOM took action against 645 employers for salary-related offences last year, 49 of which were prosecuted for severe breaches, four times 2013's number. Convicted employers are liable for fines, imprisonment or both.

Under the Employment Act, which protects both local and foreign workers against nonpayment of salary, employers are required to pay their employees within seven days after the end of the salary period, Minister of Manpower Lim Swee Say told Parliament last month.

“These employers [who violate the law] will also have their privilege to hire foreign workers suspended,” Lim said.

Under last year's amendments to the Employment Act, fines of $3,000 for first-time offenders were introduced and those for repeat offenders set at $6,000. Maximum fines for first-time offers rose to $15,000 from $5,000 and for repeat offenders to $30,000 from $10,000.

The act also enhances MOM's enforcement and investigatory powers, giving employment inspectors (for example) the authority to enter workplaces to conduct inspections and the power to arrest any person believed to be guilty of failing to pay salaries.

“We . . . urge workers who have not been paid their salaries or feel that their wages have been wrongfully withheld to come forward early to MOM or their unions for assistance,” Lim said in Parliament.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Mackey in Bangkok at correspondents@BNA.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For more information on Singaporean HR law and regulation, see the Singapore primer.