Labour and employment: local firms in Singapore
Allen & Gledhill LLP's sizeable team has 'a wealth of expertise in all employment-related issues'. It advises on cross-border employment arrangements, employee incentives, compensation and pension schemes, as well as representing employers in disputes arising out of wrongful dismissals, disciplinary proceedings and restrictive covenants. The team also assists corporate clients with internal and regulatory investigations. Sanjiv Rajan and Kelvin Wong jointly head the practice, which also includes Aaron Lee, who focuses on white-collar, regulatory and compliance and corporate governance matters; Vincent Leow handles contentious employment cases involving employee misconduct, and Wee Meng Tan is a key name on the non-contentious side.
Sanjiv Rajan, Kelvin Wong
‘A&G’s labour and employment practice team has a wealth of expertse in all employment-related issues. Led by Mr Kelvin Wong is what all in-house counsels wish for: top notch quality advice, practical and common-sense oriented.’
‘Kelvin Wong has demonstrated that he is a lawyer to be always willing to support and provide the best of his expertise when needed. Even if the matter is no entirely in his field of expertise, he makes sure that the talents within the firm are put together to better look after the interest of the clients. He is not a sole-player, but a team player.’
- Acting for an employer in enforcing an international two-year restrictive covenant against a former employee.
- Acting for a global brokerage company in High Court proceedings involving two unprecedented issues, namely, whether “forward contracts” are enforceable in employment law, and secondly, whether no-show damages are available for an employee who signed an employment agreement but refused to turn up.
- Acting for the employer in a claim against a former employee, a Myanmar company and its principal representative, in a dispute arising from the serious misconduct of the former employee in repeatedly accessing and downloading confidential information prior to leaving his employment with the client.
- Representing an employer in its claim against a former senior employee, who accessed confidential information and utilised the confidential information to compete with the employer during and after his employment in breach of his fiduciary and contractual obligations.
Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow handles contentious, non-contentious, investigatory and day-to-day employment-related issues, with complementary expertise in employment-related tax and immigration matters. Disputes partner Celeste Ang advises clients on compliance and regulatory issues in multi-jurisdictional investigations, terminations, breach of fiduciary duties and enforcement of restrictive covenants and confidentiality provisions. Kelvin Poa, and senior associates Ng Zhao Yang and Clarence Ding, make up the other key figures in the team. Aran Alexander left the firm in September 2019 for an in-house role.
‘Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow’s team members really understand the clients’ business needs and are extremely knowledgeable about all the topics, providing the best recommendations and tailor-made solutions.’
Drew & Napier LLC advises on the spectrum of employment law, including benefits, compliance with workplace health and safety and employee insurance legislation, as well as the employment-related aspects of transactions, advisory and contentious work. Kelvin Tan leads on the contentious side, with strong expertise in regulatory compliance, investigations and proceedings involving bribery, fraud and misconduct. Benjamin Gaw is experienced in drafting and reviewing employment contracts and handbook templates, promotion letter templates, sponsorship agreements and termination agreements.
Other key lawyers:
Align Technology, Inc
Aureus Group Pte Ltd
Fujitsu Components Asia Pt. Ltd
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation – Singapore branch (HSBC Singapore )
Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd
MOH Holdings Pte Ltd (MOHH)
McCormick Ingredients SouthEast Asia Pte Ltd
The employment practice at Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP 'has the resources and the experience to handle any size project', and acts for major international corporations and senior executives on all aspects of employment law and related issues. Key areas of activity include restructuring and retrenchment exercises, advising on the employment aspects of major transactions, advocacy in litigation and handling complaints, misconduct and investigations. Desmond Wee specialises in non-contentious employment, and is noted for his expertise in trade union matters, retrenchments and termination of employment exercises and structuring employment terms. K Muralidharan Pillai acts for employers in contentious matters, including enforcement of post-termination restrictive covenants, banking secrecy and preserving confidentiality. Jonathan Yuen has a strong record defending corporate clients in disputes involving wrongful termination, whistle-blower claims, work-place discrimination, constructive-dismissal and other related issues.
Desmond Wee, K Muralidharan Pillai
Other key lawyers:
‘Rajah & Tann has the resources and the experience to handle any size project. They are a safe pair of hands.’
‘Desmond Wee is a standout partner – he is dedicated to his role and always gives the best possible service he can.’
- Acted for a client in an action filed against its former group financial services director for breach of contract and fiduciary duties involving a mass departure of close to 250 advisers.
- Acting for a client in a claim against one of its former employees for misappropriation of monies.
- Assisting a client, as the liquidators. with the contested retrenchment and termination of certain senior employees in the context of a company in liquidation.
- Defending a client against claims made by a senior executive’s allegations of wrongful termination, breach of employment contract and demands for damages and compensation of over S$300,000.
- Defending a public hospital against claims made by a senior consultant for unfair dismissal and defamation.
CNPLaw LLP, which acts for employers and employees, has 'a solid reputation' for assisting domestic and international clients with a range of issues, including drafting employee benefits, incentives and compensation packages and advising on the transfer of employees as part of corporate transactions, as well as handling immigration matters and employment disputes. Pradeep Kumar Singh and Bill Jamieson jointly lead the practice.
Pradeep Kumar Singh, Bill Jamieson
- Advised a multinational communications company on the local employment law aspects of its cross-border acquisition transaction, including assisting with the transfer of local and foreign employees.
- Advising on a matter involving the retrenchment of an employee in a unionised company.
- Advising the Singaporean subsidiary of a European company on matters relating to shift schedules in a data centre in Singapore.
- Advised on employment agreements for compliance with the recently amended Employment Act, the effect of new regulations under PDPA on existing employment agreements and operations, secondment arrangement and agreement and issues relating to the re-employment of a senior member at the statutory retirement age.
Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP's core areas of expertise range from employee benefits and schemes to internal restructuring, merger and downsizing exercises. Its team also advises on template employment contracts and on remuneration and termination issues. Key figures include Edric Pan, I-An Lim and Rodney Leong.
PSK Asia Inc Ltd
Datumstruct (CFS) Pte Ltd
- Acted for the Singapore branch of a Taiwanese semiconductor trading and maintenance company in a High Court dispute against its former key management personnel and their relatives and associates.
- Acted for a fund and its related companies in a claim against the fund’s former employee for breach of employment/employment duties.
- Advising a corporate client on the entire industrial relations/ trade union recognition procedures in Singapore, and possible ways to avoid unionisation and advising on the general effect of unionisation in Singapore and certain common provisions in collective agreements in Singapore.
The employment team at Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC 'thinks strategically and delivers concise and practical advice' on the full spectrum of employment law matters, often with a cross-border element. The practice is also 'knowledgeable of current developments in the law and enforcement trends', in particular regulatory issues arising from the Employment Act and Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. The team also act as counsel to employers in contentious cases concerning wrongful termination, personal data protection and whistle-blowing. On the non-contentious side, the practice assists clients with day-to-day employment issues, including drafting and reviewing restrictive covenants, confidentiality agreements, disciplinary guidelines and termination agreements. Daniel Chia, Wai Ming Yap, Wendy Tan and associate Yanguang Ker, who is a 'rising star in the realm of investigations', comprise the 'outstanding team'.
‘The team provides legally sound and commercially viable advice to, among many other clients, American corporations and individuals experiencing disputes. They achieve very quick turnaround without compromising on quality and accuracy. Most importantly, the team is respected by the Singapore courts, as well as peers in the legal industry.’
‘Daniel Chia is the main partner on the team. He gives quick, accurate and sound legal advice. He is also adept at developing strategy and coordinating teams of lawyers in multi-pronged disputes. Most importantly, he is a pleasure to work with. The Singapore courts hold him in high regard.’
Plantronix Inc Yes
William Morris Endeavour Entertainment
Colgate – Pamolive
Milken Family Foundation / Milken Institute
- Assisted the Asian arm of the Milken Institute, the Asia Centre, with the adaptation and substantial rework of its US-focused employee handbook into a complete employee handbook for use in Singapore.
- Advised William Morris Endeavor on conducting various revamps of its employment policies, including anti-bullying and harassment policies, sales incentive schemes, equal opportunity and diversity policies, substance abuse policies and a general code of conduct.
- Advised Plantronics on Singapore employment law issues resulting from the global Polycom acquisition and the impact on the local subsidiaries of both companies, such as the novation of employee contracts, drafting of new employee contracts under the merged Singapore entity and employee restructuring.
- Represented Oil Brokerage International in successfully setting aside a prohibitory injunction obtained on an ex parte basis against them as second defendant and its employee by Marex Spectron Asia, a competing commodities brokerage.
- Advised HMT Pte Ltd on the exit and separation agreement issues arising out of the exit of a senior employee.
Shook Lin & Bok LLP's team has 'significant bench strength' and is 'highly recommended' for organisational restructuring issues, redundancy exercises, outsourcing agreements and for representing employers in disputes involving wrongful termination, enforcement of restrictive covenants and fiduciary duties. Teo Mae Shaan and Joseph Tay are the key partners for non-contentious and contentious matters, respectively.
Teo Mae Shaan, Joseph Tay
- Advising an employer on enforcing its employee’s non-compete obligation.
- Acting for the Singapore arm of a major Indian asset management company in a dispute with an ex-employee, involving alleged misconduct and subsequent termination of employment.
- Acting for a foreign fund manager in a claim brought by a former employee against the company, its CEO, and other key figures. The allegations include wrongful dismissal, defamation, violation of data protection obligations and harassment.
- Assisting a provider of hotel management systems with designing, drafting and facilitating the implementation of its employee share-option scheme.
TSMP Law Corporation provides 'prompt, friendly, expert and practical guidance on Singapore employment law' and has a strong track record in non-contentious employment advisory work, as well as advocacy in employment claims tribunals and High Court disputes. The practice typically acts for a range of employers in contentious matters involving breach of non-competition, confidentiality, and fiduciary duties, large-scale redundancies, constructive and wrongful dismissals, as well as conducting internal investigations and advising on reports to the Ministry of Manpower. Practice head Ian Lim is singled out for his 'legal acumen and remarkably sound advice', particularly in relation to the employment aspects of international transactions. Also of note is senior associate Nicholas Ngo, who is highlighted for his 'impressive legal knowledge and understanding'.
Other key lawyers:
‘Great deal-maker team, with fruitful advice and practical yet sophisticated mindset.’
‘The team at TSMP provides timely, relevant and comprehensive legal solutions and legal advice. The team’s associates are responsive, thorough and offer an excellent level of service.’
‘The team provides prompt, friendly, expert and practical guidance on Singapore employment law and other contentious and non-contentious matters.’
‘Ian Lim lives up to his reputation as one of Singapore’s (perhaps APAC) best Labor law practitioners. His legal acumen and sound advice is remarkable, while he retains the practical and soft skills that show his understanding of the client’s perspective and constraints.’
‘Ian Lim is a hands-on and pragmatic employment law expert. He is personable and responds swiftly and is to the point.’
‘Ian Lim provides business-savvy legal advice, showing cognisance of business sensitivities and awareness of business realities.’
‘Nicholas Ngo, senior associate, is a talent that deserves greater attention. His legal knowledge and understanding is impressive, and his ability to explain legal jargon to laymen and willingness to complete “operational” tasks is highly commendable.’
- Represented Singapore-listed company, Yang Kee Logistics in its High Court claim against its ex-CEO, resulting in a successful mediated settlement.
- Advised Apex Group on Singapore employment laws and regulations arising from its acquisition of Deutsche Bank’s Alternative Fund Services.
- Acting for NTT in obtaining High Court confidentiality injunctions and ancillary orders against a former executive who joined a competitor.
- Advised Marsh & McLennan on Singapore employment laws and regulations arising from its acquisition of Jardine Lloyd Thompson, including on the consequent employee transfers and rightsizing.
Virtus Law LLP - Stephenson Harwood (Singapore) Alliance continues to be heavily involved in contentious employment matters. Litigation partner Terence Seah, who leads the team, has a strong track record acting for employers in disputes involving non-competition obligations, termination compensation and alleged misconduct. On the non-contentious side, Jason Yang's practice covers employment contracts, service agreements, compliance and personal data issues as well as assistance with the employment aspects of M&A transactions. The practice is also a particular favourite with Japanese companies, with Nomura Research Institute and Konica Minolta among its clients.
Other key lawyers:
Tactilis Pte Limited
Digicel (Singapore) Private
International Transport Workers Federation
- Defending Digicel (Singapore) Private in litigation brought by a former employee claiming loss of income and damages allegedly caused by the client’s wrongful termination of the claimant’s employment.
- Assisted International Transport Workers Federation with the employment aspects of setting up a new branch in Singapore.
- Advised Tricon Energy on the Singapore law employment aspects of its acquisition of Noble Group’s petrochemical business.
WongPartnership LLP advises on the full gamut of non-contentious and contentious employment law matters, with niche experience in negotiating with unions, particularly concerning industrial relations, and challenging disciplinary and misconduct investigations. Department co-head Vivien Yui advises on the employment aspects of major corporate transactions, global share incentive plans and benefits and local policies, in addition to immigration law. Fellow co-head Jenny Tsin is noted for her experience in disputes between employers and employees, regulators and trade unions. She also assists clients with conducting investigations into whistle-blowing allegations and employee misconduct. Qi-Yang Chang is noted for employment-related disputes.
Vivien Yui, Jenny Tsin
Other key lawyers:
‘The WongPartnership team is very professional and knowledgeable. The key strength of the team is its focus on keeping the client first. They have the exceptional ability to understand the ’human’ angle in a dispute/ litigation. The team bring academic rigor and thorough knowledge on the technical aspects of law.’
‘I would like to specifically recommend Mr CHANG Qi-Yang for his unique ability to vicariously perceive and re-create events through his client. In complicated litigations, such as the one on which we are working, this ability of perception is extremely crucial. Another distinctive and rare strength is his ability to anticipate and intercept the tactics of opponents. Above all, it is a combination of his empathy, his intellect and his patience which have and will continue to elevate him above the rest.’
Exyte Singapore Pte Ltd
IHH Healthcare Bhd
- Acting for a well-known private equity firm in Asia in a dispute relating to a former senior employee’s termination of his employment and his alleged entitlement to carried interest.
- Acting as defence counsel to Exyte Singapore Pte Ltd in respect of a criminal charge against it under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.
- Representing an ex-portfolio manager and MAS-licensed representative of UTI International (Singapore), the Singapore arm of one of the largest national-linked funds in India, in a high-value claim for wrongful dismissal following whistle-blowing allegations against his former employer.
Bird & Bird ATMD LLP has a strong offering handling domestic and multi-jurisdictional non-contentious and contentious employment issues, including investigations and misconduct, restrictive covenants, employee benefits, industrial relations and business immigration. Focusing largely on representing employers in high-stakes litigation, Seow Hui Goh is 'an excellent employment lawyer' and 'a safe pair of hands' for enforcement of restrictive covenants, obtaining urgent injunctive relief and investigations relating to statutory non-compliance and employee misconduct. Susan de Silva retired in December 2018.
Seow Hui Goh
‘Seow Hui Goh is excellent and a safe pair of hands in employment disputes. Extremely commercial and recognises the need to be responsive and client oriented.‘
Borouge Pte Ltd
Mammoet (S) Pte Ltd
Shell Eastern Trading
- Represented Shell Eastern Trading in a High Court dispute against its former commodities trader involving wrongful dismissal.
- Defended Borouge in a dispute before the High Court concerning a malicious prosecution claim brought by a former employee.
- Acted for Orient Corporation, a global manufacturer of fire suppression systems, in three High Court disputes against an errant former employee, including breach of confidence.
- Represented a marketing solutions company, its Singaporean subsidiary and its director in defending a High Court suit brought by a former contractor alleging multiple complex claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duties and conspiracy.
Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore
Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore focuses on representing employers in complex disputes and investigations involving restraint of trade, investigations into fraud, breach of confidentiality, data breach and disciplinary hearings. Thomas Choo stands out for his 'very impressive grasp of employment law'; his practice includes reviewing and drafting employment and service agreements, severance packages, incentive schemes and immigration law matters.
‘Good knowledge and understanding of the local employment law.’
MS Amlin Asia Pacific
Starr International Insurance
Candid Marine Engineering
- Advising Odyssey Reinsurance on a complex secondment agreement, which included a change in structure of the two entities.
- Advising various clients, including Candid Marine Engineering, on the recently ratified Maritime Labour Convention 2006, which purports to improve the work environment for seafarers by establishing minimum standards of employment conditions.
Eversheds Harry Elias
At Eversheds Harry Elias, head of employment practice S Suressh is an experienced advocate, representing employers and employees in actions involving restrictive covenants in employment contracts. On the non-contentious side, he also advises on the retrenchment or transfer of employees and negotiations with trade unions, including assisting with collective agreements and memorandums of understanding.
Nelco Singapore Pte Ltd (subsidiary of Park Electrochemical)
LVMH Watch & Jewellery Singapore Pte Ltd (Singapore subsidiary of LVMH Group)
DNV GL Singapore Pte Ltd
Simmons & Simmons is a popular choice for listed banks, insurers, funds and asset managers and is regularly instructed to represent employers in highly sensitive cross-border disputes and investigations. Key contact Mohammed Reza specialises in contentious matters involving termination of employment and enforcement of non-compete agreements.
Withers KhattarWong LLP has strengthened its capability in employment with the hire of Amarjit Kaur from Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC. Kaur is particularly experienced in guiding corporate clients through complex employment issues arising out of investigations, reduction in workforce exercises, business transfers and M&As. The practice acts for employers and employees alike in breach of employment contract disputes, including wrongful dismissal cases, termination of employment, retrenchment exercises and business immigration. Deborah Barker SC heads the practice.
Deborah Barker, SC
Other key lawyers:
State Bank of India
TMF Singapore Pte Ltd
GetIt Pte Ltd
Match Move Pay
Ficofi Partners Holding Pte Ltd
- Advising the State Bank of India on the reviewing and updating a suite of employment documents.
- Acting for GetIt in enforcing restrictive covenants against a former employee, including non-compete obligations.
- Acting for MatchMove in enforcing restrictive covenants against a former employee, including non-compete obligations.