Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has drawn backlash online after she said that the Government has no plans to raise the legal minimum of seven days annual leave entitlement, while she purportedly enjoys up to 18 days annual leave as a Minister.
Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng had asked Ms Teo about the rationale behind capping the statutory minimum entitlement for annual leave at seven days and whether the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would raise the minimum number of annual leave days.
Responding to his questions last Tuesday (6 Aug), Ms Teo said that the Government currently has no plans to raise the minimum legal entitlement of annual leave. She added that her ministry regularly reviews manpower laws and policies as it monitors employment trends in Singapore and abroad.
Mr Ng had asked whether MOM would raise the minimum annual leave entitlement so that Singapore could rank higher among developed nations for annual leave entitlement.
Ms Teo responded and said that such entitlements vary across developed economies. Noting that the US does not federally regulate paid annual leave and that countries like the UK and Australia have “relatively more generous provisions”, Ms Teo said:
“The minimum statutory annual leave entitlement in Singapore is comparable to that in jurisdictions such as Hong Kong and Taiwan.”
She added that MOM laws provide for paid sick leave, childcare leave, and other forms of leave. Ms Teo said: “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.”
Singapore workers are entitled to paid annual leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 3 months. Workers’ annual leave entitlement depends on how many years of service they have with their employer.
With each year of service, the worker’s minimum entitlement is raised by one extra day until the eighth year of service, when they are entitled to 14 days annual leave. Workers who have worked more than eight years with the same employer will be entitled to 14 days annual leave.
According to the Public Service Division’s (PSD) website, however, members of the public service enjoy 14/18 days of Annual Vacation Leave.
The PSD says that “aside from annual vacation leave, you’ll also get to enjoy other types of leave meant to support your family life and work-life” if you are a public servant:
Political office-holders such as Ms Teo could also receive up to 18 days annual leave, like those working in the public service.
Some netizens, responding to the benefits public servants receive and Ms Teo’s announcement that the seven days annual leave entitlement will not be raised, have criticised the disparity in benefits public servants get compared to ordinary taxpayers: