On Tuesday (6 August), Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo revealed that the Ministry has no plans to increase the minimum legal entitlement of seven days annual leave for employees in Singapore.
She was responding to parliamentary questions raised by Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng on the reason of capping the statutory minimum entitlement for annual leave at seven days, and if the Ministry has any plans to increase it so that Singapore could be on par with other developed nations for annual leave entitlement.
In her written response, Mrs Teo said that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will not raise it for now but will continue to observe employment trends that’s happening both locally and internationally, as well as regularly review its laws and policies.
She also stressed that the stipulations in Singapore’s Employment Act seek to “protect the basic interests of employees while balancing business needs and ensuring employees’ employability”.
Besides that, the Minister also explained that annual day leave varies across developed nations, like UK and Australia where they have “relatively more generous provisions”, while US does not have a federal law regulating paid annual leave.
According to the Employment Act in Singapore, a worker is only entitled to seven days of annual leave if one has worked with their employer for at least three months, but not more than one year.
However, with each year of service, an employee’s statutory entitlement increases, up to 14 days.
Mrs Teo also noted that the Republic’s statutory annual leave entitlements should be viewed together with the paid sick leave, children leave as well as other forms of leave provided based on the country’s laws.
“Employees can use these other forms of leave over and above their annual leave entitlements. In other jurisdictions, such leave may not be available, or fully paid,” she noted.
Although 14 days of annual leave is similar to what Hong Kong employees receive, but other developed countries get a much more generous provisions, which can be seen below:
- Australia: 20 days per year
- Belgium: 20 days after first year of employment
- South Korea: 15 to 25 days, depending on length of employment
- New Zealand: 20 days
Upon hearing what the Minister said about not increasing the paid annual leave of seven days, a Facebook page called The Alternative View attacked Mrs Teo as it claimed that all the Ministers failed to understand that seven days of annual leave is insufficient because they get at least 18 days of it.
“Have PAP Minister Josephine Teo and her millionaire ministers ever put themselves in the shoes of the many workers who are entitled to only 7 days’ annual leave? Oh wait, they themselves are entitled to at least 18 days,” the post stated.
In the comment section of the post, netizens slammed the minister for not increasing the minimum paid annual leave of seven days. Some called her “hypocrite” while others called her “evil” and the “worst minister ever”. Jack Foo said that although he “accept the logic that ministers are doing a much more important job than most of us, but the disparity is too glaring”.
Others said that the ministers may get more that 18 days of annual leave as they might take more unofficially. On the other hand, Ixac Tan said that it’s more than 21 days as “a normal civil servant can get roughly 21 days, and will increase as the years go. Ministerial level can’t be any lower”. Others also agree that it has to be more than 18 days as even a SAF officer gets 28 days of annual leave, so a Minister has to get higher.
Sivadas Krishnan explained that seven days of annual leave is not sufficient if locals want to compete with foreign workers (FWs). This is because FWs are happy with seven days as they don’t have family commitments in Singapore. A such, he said “conditions must change for the better of our people, because we deserve better and it must be initiated by the government”.