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The Singapore Employer's Duty of Care on Workplace Safety Health when Employees Travel

Published by Rajah Tann and the International SOS Foundation. Overview of the Singaporean employers' Duty of Care responsibilities for employees travelling overseas for work.

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The employment relationship automatically imposes a duty of care on the employer towards its employee. This duty extends to a reasonable duty of care owed when the employee carries out his work or performs functions in relation to his work obligations.

The duty of care in an employer-employee relationship arises at common law and under legislation. Whilst the Employment Act regulates employment and welfare related issues, the Workplace Safety and Health Act (‘WSHA’) focuses on safety and health issues of employees. The focus is on taking reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety and health of employees are taken care of. This duty can extend to situations where the employee is required to travel on work or is seconded overseas. Any breach of the common law could result in civil claims, whilst additionally a breach of the legislative duty will result in criminal liability on the employer as well as individuals, such as the company’s directors or managers overseeing the affected employee. In addition, the employer can be liable under the Work Injury Compensation Act to compensate employees for any injury or illness suffered in the course of work, or incidental to work.

This article provides a snapshot of the safety and health obligations of employers based in Singapore.