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Risky Employment Contract Terms

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kortizol
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Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby kortizol » Wed, 10 Oct 2018 4:09 pm

Hi All,

I'm on an EP - 6 months into a 2 year term. Wife is on DP on my EP.

She hasn't worked here since we arrived - she started job hunting a few weeks ago.

She got an offer with one of the main banks - it's a contract through an agency - appears to be LOC based. No end date specified on the contract.

Agency has clause in the contract that states:
- If she leaves the role within year 1, a penalty of approx 10% of annual salary is incurred.
- If she serves 1 months notice, and is unable to serve full notice, 20% of annual salary is incurred.

So, if for any unforeseen personal reason we need to leave Singapore (which we have no intention of doing) and if for any reason it was to happen in a hurry, she is at risk of an immediate penalty of 30% of her annual salary.

I understand the agency is trying to cover some of their risk, but it seems a lazy legal catch clause all that is way over the top.

My employer decides to transfer me to another country - we might need to move back to EU in a family emergency.....the list could go on

The risk just seems crazy to be able to take on and not be concerned about on an ongoing basis ?

Is this type of clause unusual ?

K



Update:
After discussion, the Agency has stated that these are "standard terms" they use in their contract and they are designed primarily to minimise the risk of job hopping.

Makes 100% sense - no problem - that is a fair risk to mitigate and dis-incentivise.

They also appreciate that extenuating circumstances "shouldn't" result in these terms being applied, but at the same time they're not comfortable adding any additional clause specifically relating to having to leave the country "because it's a standard document" and can't be changed.

They attempted to propose a "verbal agreement" lol
That wasn't accepted.

They moved to possibly sending an email with additional terms - needs to be discussed with their legal & HR team.


.

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PNGMK
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Re: Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby PNGMK » Wed, 10 Oct 2018 5:19 pm

The reality of them being actually able to enforce these is a point to think about. Let's imagine you have to quit and leave because of some reason. You pack up, your wife simply doesn't show up at work (perhaps timed just as she is paid, presumably in arrears?) and you leave the country. They'll send a demand letter, you retain a lawyer who tells them it's essentially unenforceable for various reasons (i.e. you're no longer in Singapore). Your wife pays her IRAS remotely and life moves on. This is the utter ridiculous thing about these clauses, all they do is actually encourage the sort of behavious I have outlined which is frankly, is appalling when it happens but fully understandable.

We had friends who had to leave an International School in these circumstances - they had a 10k penalty EACH for leaving pre end-of-contract which a friendly lawyer basically dealt with by telling said school to rack off. (School really was a slave establishment, all that was missing were the whips and manacles which were out for service).
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kortizol
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Re: Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby kortizol » Wed, 10 Oct 2018 8:02 pm

Thanks - indeed it seems so pointless and the "sales reps"....I mean recruitment consultants....don't have the skills to negotiate through this - it doesn't have to be a negative outcome at all - this can work out just fine - there is no underhandedness going on here from our side.

Of course one strategy is to do a runner - but that's not ideal and has potential negative impacts on future references / employment. Its a route out, but it's also far from ideal.

They would likely owe salary if she just stops turning up.
If they pay on 12th in arrears eg, then she could work almost 2 weeks to avoid alerting and risking previous months salary. Then vanish on payday - but at that point, they'd likely keep that additional 2 weeks.

If she played fair and gave 1 months notice, they would probably be able to hold onto more if the timing of that was messy and they so chose to.

So they will likely have cash owed in their hands - just a question of how much.

Timing here is not necessarily in our control - if someone dies in EU on 29th of a month, she can't necessarily hang around for 9 days here because that's going to stop them holding 10k on us - miss a funeral and suffer a lot of stress - so timing isn't necessarily within her control unfortunately.

They could in theory be in a position to hold 10% and then we're chasing them for 10%, they're potentially chasing her to keep the 10% and seek an additional 20% !!!

The reality of them being able to get the 20% is perhaps an outside chance, and it would still cost us legal fees to fight them off.

So they could cost us 11% or 12% both directly & indirectly.

I don't get the impression that Singapore is the sort of place where doing a runner would reflect well if we ever wanted / needed to come back - but maybe I've been reading the papers too much !

It all just seems so unnecessary.....

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PNGMK
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Re: Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby PNGMK » Thu, 11 Oct 2018 8:47 am

Doing a runner is a civil matter. It won't cause issues with any govt bodies.
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Re: Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 11 Oct 2018 11:17 am

At the rate the OP is going, he's going to talk himself out of a contract by overthinking things. Every expat that ever arrived on foreign soil can find something detrimental in their contract if they want to dwell on it. If he's not comfortable with it, just say no and stay home. Easy-peasy.

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Re: Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby Addadude » Thu, 11 Oct 2018 2:34 pm

To the OP, as SMS said, if there is anything about the contract clause that you and your wife are unhappy with, she shouldn't accept the role.

When I stepped off the plane here about 25 years ago I was also under the burden of an employment contract with a local firm that had grossly unfair terms regarding me quitting my job. Obviously there were no expat message boards than to check on how enforceable such a contract was. I did get a lawyer in Europe to give it a once over and he said according to EU laws, the troublesome clauses were unenforceable and would be 'laughed out of court'. But guess what? Singapore isn't Europe. So I was stuck with them until I fulfilled my contract with that particular company. It was a very valuable lesson and it didn't traumatise me too badly - I'm still here in SG after all.

Long story short, as I mentioned above, if you are not happy, don't sign. Your better half should look for another role without such terms.
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kortizol
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Re: Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby kortizol » Thu, 11 Oct 2018 6:25 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:At the rate the OP is going, he's going to talk himself out of a contract by overthinking things. Every expat that ever arrived on foreign soil can find something detrimental in their contract if they want to dwell on it. If he's not comfortable with it, just say no and stay home. Easy-peasy.



We have zero problem walking away from the contract if its a bad deal.

I'm just trying to get input from everywhere - and it's proven very valuable. If we walk Way we don't want it to be backed by a lack of info - we are relatively new here !

Thanks :-)

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kortizol
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Re: Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby kortizol » Thu, 11 Oct 2018 6:31 pm

Addadude wrote:To the OP, as SMS said, if there is anything about the contract clause that you and your wife are unhappy with, she shouldn't accept the role.



Yup ! Exactly where we have been since we saw it - trying to avoid the lost opportunity due to misinterpretation or administrative laziness or ignorance - They fully agree with her exception cases , they just won't write it in a contract !!

Thanks :-)

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Re: Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 11 Oct 2018 9:56 pm

This is such a great example of how Singapore firms still treat their employees like shit. Instead of considering them as valuable resources who make or break the company, they treat them as shirkers and neer do wells who must be controlled and kept in line with punitive measures like shitty employment contract clauses. Then they stand back and pretend their bullsh*t is written in stone and can't be amended... for if they amended it, it would be a clear demonstration of how stupid their rules are in the first place.

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Re: Risky Employment Contract Terms

Postby kortizol » Sun, 14 Oct 2018 5:31 pm

Indeed StrongEagle - that's 100% my take on it aswell.

Thankfully, this has been negotiated and resolved so the opportunity was not lost in the end, and that didn't involve soul selling.

Thanks for all your input folks - and for those lurking / coming across this later on - Be Nice, But be Firm if you're not comfortable with contracts - it can work out in your favour once you're reasonable about it !

K.


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