Merlion Park, Singapore

Singapore is a very small, heavily urbanised, island city-state in Southeast Asia located at the end of the Malayan Peninsula between Malaysia and Indonesia. Singapore has a total land area of 724.2 square kilometres with the mainland measuring 50 kilometres from east to west, 27 kilometres from north to south with 193 kilometres of coastline, and is separated from Indonesia by the Singapore Strait and from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor.

Singapore’s climate is classified as tropical rainforest climate with no true distinct seasons. It is characterized by uniform temperature and pressure, with high humidity and abundant rainfall. Therefore, it is almost always warm and wet with an average annual rainfall around 2,340 mm. Temperature hovers a range of minimum of 25°C (77.0°F) to a maximum of 33°C (91.4°F), whilst humidity of a high 90% in the early morning to around 60% in the mid-afternoon.

There are 2 monsoon seasons annually with the first being the Northeast monsoon occurring from mid-November to early March, and the Southwest monsoon occurring from June to September. Singapore is relatively safe from seismic activity in the region as the nearest major active faults – Sumatran fault and Sunda megathrust fault – are hundreds of kilometres away in Indonesia.

With a robust economy and strong talent pool, Singapore is a buzzing metropolis situated right in the
heart of Asia – offering businesses the ideal landscape to invest with confidence. Many attributes are notable to Singapore:

– ease of doing business

– best business environment

– strong connections within Asia

– stable government

– great place to live, work and study

Business entities operating any activity for profit on an on-going basis in Singapore must register with and be regulated by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), like a sole proprietorship; partnership; limited partnership; limited liability partnership; company. But some are exempted from registration as in a bona fide individual’s name, a society, a trade union, a mutual benefit organisation, a foreign owned entity applying to transfer its registration to Singapore (re-domiciliation), or applying to set-up a branch in Singapore; or opening a representative office (RO).

The formation of a Company (including re-domiciliation) in Singapore is required to comply with the Companies Act that legislates any person may, whether alone or together with another person, by subscribing his name or their names to a constitution and complying with the requirements as to registration, form an incorporated company that may be a company limited by shares; a company limited by guarantee; or an unlimited company. Foreign owned entities must appoint a locally resident director/authorised representative to manage the affairs and operation of the Company.

Registration of the business entity can be directly via ACRA’s online portal, or by engaging the services of a registered filing agent such as a law firm or a corporate service provider. It’s also advisable to check with the relevant industry association(s) to ascertain and confirm if a licence or permit is required. Becoming a legally registered business entity in Singapore, there is yet another pertinent aspect to be aware of and this involves human resources.

The Employment Act is Singapore’s main labour law and legislates the basic terms and conditions at work for employees covered by it. Foreign employees holding any valid work passes are covered by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act that legislates the responsibilities and obligations in employing foreigners.

These legislations cover local and foreign employees working under a contract of service which includes rest days, hours of work and other conditions of service. However, they only applies to a workman (doing manual labour only) earning a monthly basic salary of not more than S$ 4,500.00; or an employee who is not a workman earning a monthly basic salary of not more than S$ 2,600.00. An employee who is a manager or an executive (with executive and supervisory functions) is not covered, though. Basic salary excludes payment of overtime, bonus, annual wage supplement, productivity incentive payment, reimbursement for special expenses and all allowances.

Employers have certain defined areas of responsibility and accountability: accurate and timely salary disbursement; key employment terms; itemized payslips; attendance and working hours; statutory benefits (these are paid public holidays and leaves entitlement); and accurate and timely central provident fund contributions.

With regard to the central provident fund contributions, the CPF Act legislates an employer is to make contributions for their employees who are Singapore citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents. However, the employer is entitled to recover the employee’s share of the contributions by deduction from his/her wages.

There is also the Work Injury Compensation Act that legislates employees can make compensation claims for work-related accident or suffered a diseases due to work without having to engage a lawyer to file a civil suit under common law.

In this regard, it’s advisable that business entities (including foreign owned entities) to arrange for the Work Injury Compensation Insurance in insuring all employees doing manual work, as well as employees earning S$ 2,600.00 or less a month.

Another aspect about insurance protection and indemnification to business entities is to arrange for a well-designed and comprehensive Liability Insurance for their legal liability towards third parties. With such an insurance coverage, it augments and complements for the ever prudent need for legal services to advice in the business operation, whether it be a patent application to safeguard any innovative solutions, or a non-disclosure agreement for confidentiality, or contractual obligations entered with a customer.

Concluding, there are a few other run-of-the-mill aspects for a business entity to consider as in the likes of financial services, accounting services, tax advisory services, realtor services, etc. A corporate service provider (this is aplenty in Singapore) should be engaged and appointed to assist, liaise and coordinate them.

I wish this short narrative is informative and found helpful to readers. With a nickname like “The Little Red Dot”, living in Singapore is indeed Uniquely Singapore!

About the Author

Peter Chan
Peter ChanBusiness Development Director, Pana Harrison, Singapore