Labour Law Insider – APAC 2024 Q2 Legislation Update

Links Labour Law Insider – Latest APAC Tax, Payroll & Labour Law Updates

Here is the latest version of Links’ Labour Law Insider, a quarterly publication. This legislative summary covers notable advancements in taxation, labour regulations, payroll, and visa developments throughout Asia. Its aim is to furnish you with a swift and thorough overview.

For more news and insights into the market, make sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out on the latest HR news, or contact our team to learn more about the latest changes!

  • Hong Kong
    • Hong Kong to Relax 418 ‘Rule’
    • Reduction in Tax and Additional Allowances in Budget 2024-25
  • Mainland China
    • Work Injury Insurance Adjustments in Anhui & Fujian
    • Preferential Stamp Duty Policy for Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone
    • Guidance On the Available Deductions to Reduce Taxable Income and The Applicable Tax Rate Bands
    • China’s Visa-Free Policies
  • Singapore
    • New Platform for Lower-Wage Workers to Check Salaries
    • Highlights from 2024 Budget for HR and Businesses
    • Compensation Limits Under Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) To Be Raised
    • Singapore Retirement and Re-Employment Age Set to Increase
    • Singapore Set to Increase Minimum Monthly Qualifying Salary for EP Applicants in 2025
    • Singapore’s CPF Interest Rate Declines to 4.05% for Special, MediSave, and Retirement Accounts in Second Quarter
  • Malaysia
    • Compulsory Addition of 2 New Columns on Form CP8D – ‘Employee Status’ and ‘Date of Retirement / End of Contract’
    • Extension for Employer 2023 Form E Filing Submission
  • Thailand
    • Thailand Extends Deadline For E-Filing Tax Returns
    • Increase in Minimum Wage in 10 Provinces
  • Vietnam
    • The Draft Decree Regulating Personal Data Protection
  • Cambodia
    • Cambodia Sets New Work Permit Rules for Foreign Employees
    • Cambodia to Impose Fine for Failure to Register Employees for NSSF
    • Vocational Certificates to be Provided to Skilled Workers
    • Support System for Migrant Workers Abroad to be Launched
    • Taxpayers Exempted From Penalties for Correcting Past Tax Records
    • Allowance for More Garment, Footwear and Travel Goods (GFT) Factory Workers Amid Contract Suspension
  • Indonesia
    • New Regulation on Occupational Health and Safety in Confined Space
    • Effective Rates for Article 21 Income Tax
    • Indonesia Advances Employee Well-Being by Implementing Fridays Off
    • Indonesia Modifies Naming of National Holidays and Collective Leave in 2024
    • Indonesia Raises Wage Threshold for Pension Security Program
    • Religious Holiday Allowances in Indonesia: Obligations for Businesses
  • India
    • New Schemes to Protect Workers in Unorganised Sectors
    • India Extends Due Date to Upload Wage Details for Higher Pension Until 31 May 2024
    • India Allows Central Government Women Employees to Nominate Children for Pension in Marital Discord Cases
    • India’s Interim Union Budget 2024-25
    • Finance Act 2024 Enacted
    • India Raises Dearness Allowance for Central Government Employees
  • Philippines
    • Philippines Increases Wages in Caraga Region
    • Philippines to Give Financial Assistance of PHP5,000 to Assist Low-Wage Workers
    • Philippines Releases Pay Rules for Regular Holidays and Special (Non-Working) Days in 2024
    • Suspension on 3-Year Prescriptive Period for EC Claim Filings Lifted
    • Senate Approves Bill to Increase Wages by PHP100
    • First Tranche of Increase in Daily Minimum Wage for Davao
    • Philippines Ratifies International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention
    • PHP20 Minimum Pay for Workers in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)
    • Philippines House Panel Greenlights Bill Offering Tax Incentives for Companies Hiring Senior Citizens
  • South Korea
    • South Korea Launches Visa for High-Earning Foreigners
    • South Korea Expands Child Support for Single Parent Families
    • Plan to Improve Illegal and Unfair Practices in Workplaces Established
    • One-Stop Support for Resolving Workplace Labour Issues
    • South Korea to Offer Incentives for Employers Implementing Reduced Working Hours
    • South Korea to Provide Assistance for Rental Expenses of Operating Daycare Centres in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
  • Taiwan
    • Taiwan’s Legislature Officially Passes Minimum Wage Act
    • Taiwan Announces Programme For Middle-Aged People or Retirees to Return to Work
  • Japan
    • Firms Required to Set Paternity Leave Targets
    • Japan’s Latest Digital Nomad Visa
    • Amendments to Clearly Stated Working Conditions
    • Overtime Work Regulations for Construction Industry, Car Driving Industry, and Doctors Become Mandatory
  • Australia
    • Human Rights Commission Will Take Action Against Employers Who Fail to Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment
    • Superannuation Contributions Caps to be Increased
    • Australia Set to Introduce ‘Right to Disconnect’
    • Australia Expands Paid Parental Leave Duration
    • Australia to Provide Superannuation Contributions for Paid Parental Leave
    • Australian Government Announces Delivering Tax Cuts to All Australian Taxpayers, Providing Cost-of-Living Relief
  • New Zealand
    • Minimum Wage to Be Hiked to NZ$23.15 an Hour
    • New Zealand Introduces the FamilyBoost Payment Initiative

If you have any questions regarding the content please contact Bella Khan at bella.khan@linksinternational.com or Lynette Liew at lynette.liew@linksinternational.com.


HONG KONG

Hong Kong to Relax 418 ‘Rule’

On 1 February 2024, the Hong Kong government announced plans to relax the ‘418 rule’ to provide benefits to more employees. Under the ‘418 rule’, workers must work 18 hours per week for four weeks to qualify for continuous employment benefits.

Under the proposed ‘468 rule’, employees need to work a total of 68 hours over four weeks. This change aims to address criticisms of the 418 rule’s rigidity and its failure to accommodate modern work arrangements. The government will report to the Legislation Council, and an Amendment Bill will be introduced for scrutiny. Until then, the 418 rule remains in effect, and employers should stay updated on any changes.

Reference Link

Reduction in Tax and Additional Allowances in Budget 2024-25

In Budget 2024-25, Financial Chief Paul Chan unveiled measures to alleviate economic challenges:

  1. Salaries tax and personal assessment tax for 2023/24 will be slashed by 100%, capped at HK$3,000.
  2. A 2-tier tax system will be introduced, with income up to HK$5 million taxed at 15% and anything above taxed at 16%.
  3. Eligible social security recipients will receive an allowance equivalent to half a month of standard rate Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) payments, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance, or Disability Allowance.
  4. Recipients of the Working Family Allowance will also benefit from similar arrangements.
  5. Approximately HK$130 million from the Community Care Fund will fund a 3-year pilot scheme from the third quarter of 2024, offering an additional HK$500 per month subsidy to employed disabled CSSA recipients to incentivize employment.

Reference Link

Looking to streamline your HR administration and payroll in HK? Contact our professional payroll team now!

MAINLAND CHINA

Work Injury Adjustments in Anhui & Fujian

Anhui Province

Anhui Province has issued a notice regarding the adjustment of work-related injury insurances and benefits. The adjustments have been made to enhance the disability allowances and death grant for individuals who have suffered work-related injuries in the province. All entities are required to promptly implement these adjustments and report the details by 31 January 2024.

This adjustment specifically applies to employees or family members currently receiving monthly disability allowances and death grants as per existing regulations before 31 December 2022. The adjustment standards are:

Minimum Disability Allowances:

  • Disability Grade 1 increased by RMB136 per month
  • Disability Grade 2 increased by RMB128 per month
  • Disability Grade 3 increased by RMB121 per month
  • Disability Grade 4 increased by RMB113 per month
  • Disability Grade 5 increased by RMB90 per month
  • Disability Grade 6 increased by RMB70 per month

After the adjustment, for those with disability allowances grade 1 below RMB3390, grade 2 below RMB3202, grade 3 below RMB3013, and grade 4 below RMB2825, the benefits should then be adjusted according to the above-mentioned standards.

Death Grant:

  • The spouse receives an additional RMB68 per month.
  • Other relatives receive an additional RMB58 per person per month.
  • Elderly widows or orphans receive an additional RMB30 per person on top of the above-mentioned standards.

For those whose monthly standard for providing family allowance and condolence money before the adjustment is below RMB1433, an initial increase of RMB20 will be made (if it exceeds RMB1433 after the increment, it will be capped at RMB1433), and subsequently, it will be recalibrated following the procedure.

Fujian Province

Fujian Province has issued a notice regarding the adjustment of work-related injury insurances and benefits. It has been decided to uniformly adjust and appropriately increase three types of regular benefits for insured employees who have suffered work-related injuries in the province, including disability allowances, death grant for dependents, and living care allowances.

This adjustment specifically applies to employees who have been receiving monthly disability allowances (excluding those who have suffered work-related injuries and been receiving retired allowances), living care allowances and death grants as per existing regulations before 31 December 2022. The adjustment standards are as follows:

Minimum Disability Allowances:

  • Disability Grade 1 increased by RMB179 per month
  • Disability Grade 2 increased by RMB175 per month
  • Disability Grade 3 increased by RMB172 per month
  • Disability Grade 4 increased by RMB168 per month

The disability allowances for employees who have suffered grade 1 to 4 work-related injuries will be adjusted according to above mentioned. If the adjusted allowance is below RMB3159 per month, it shall be issued at the standard of RMB3159 per month.

For employees who have suffered grade 5 to 6 work-related injuries, receiving monthly disability allowances, and maintaining a labour relationship with the employer, the adjustment standard for their disability allowances shall be implemented according to the methods specified in the “Regulations on Work Injury Insurance.” Employers shall refer to the adjustment standards of the grade 1 to 4 disability allowances in this notice for employee who have suffered work-related injury with the grades. The required funds shall be disbursed from the original channel.

Living Care Allowances:

  • If the allowances for employees who are unable to care for themselves is lower than RMB3,795/month, the standard of RMB3,795/month should be paid.
  • If the allowances for employees who have limited ability to care for themselves is lower than RMB3,036/month, the standard of RMB3,036/month should be paid.
  • If the allowances for employees who are partially unable to care for themselves is lower than RMB2,277/month, the standard of RMB2,277/month should be paid.

Death Grant:

An increase of RMB59 per person per month. Elderly widows or orphans receive an additional RMB50 per person on top of the above-mentioned standards.

Reference Link

Preferential Stamp Duty for Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone

The State Administration of Taxation (SAT) has introduced a preferential stamp duty policy, effective from 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025, to support specific business activities within the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone.

This policy applies to taxpayers within the zone and its newly included Lingang new area. Under the policy, the SAT has announced a stamp duty exemption for offshore resale transactions, wherein Chinese-resident enterprises purchase goods from non-residents and subsequently resell them to other non-resident enterprises without the goods physically entering or exiting China’s customs territory.

Reference Link

Guidance on the Available Deductions to Reduce Taxable Income and the Applicable Tax Rate Bands

2023 Annual Tax Reconsolidation (“ATR”) launches from 1 March 2024. All tax payers who are considered as China tax residents may obtain the amount of annual tax payable through declaring their annual comprehensive income or conduct tax refund/pay unpaid tax amount accordingly.

  • Policy for Reference:
    • Announcement of the State Administration of Taxation on Annual Individual Income Tax Reconsolidation in 2023
  • Duration:
    • 1st March 2024 – 30th June 2024.
  • Approach:
    • Tax payer can choose on of following options to conduct 2023 ATR:
      • 1) Conduct it by him/herself through e-portal of Tax Bureau (which includes IIT App and website).
      • 2) Authorize existing Company (IIT withholding agent) to perform 2023 ATR on behalf of him/her. Under such circumstance, the tax payer needs to deliver a written or electronic confirmation on such request to Company in advance and provide duly information regarding to his/her comprehensive income which outside of Company. The tax payer is responsible for the authenticity, accuracy and completeness of the submitted information.
      • 3) Authorize a professional service vendor or other individual for performing. An Authorization of Attorney is required to be signed between the tax payer and the mandatary.
  • Exemption:
    • If the tax payer falls into one of following scenarios, then ATR is not needed:
      • 1) Annual tax payable amount is greater than actual paid amount, but the annual comprehensive income is less than RMB 120,000.
      • 2) Annual tax payable amount is greater than actual paid amount, but the unpaid amount is less than RMB 400.
      • 3) Annual tax payable amount is equal to actual paid amount.
      • 4) Be eligible to obtain tax refund from Tax Authority, but the tax payer gives up to do that.
  • Applicable:
    • If the tax payer falls into one of following scenarios, then ATR is required:
      • 1) Actual paid amount is greater than annual tax payable amount, and the tax payer would like to apply tax refund.
      • 2) Annual comprehensive income is greater than RMB 120,000, and the unpaid amount is greater than RMB 400.

Reference Link

China’s Visa-Free Policies

China has recently seen some updates on visa-free policies, including:

  • China will allow visa-free travel for citizens holding ordinary passports from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia from 1 December 2023 to 30 November 2024, for stays up to 15 days, covering purposes such as tourism, business, visiting relatives, and transit.
  • Starting 11 December 2023 until 31 December 2024, China will reduce visa fees by 25% for all foreign travelers, as announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • China and Thailand have agreed on a permanent visa-free arrangement from March 2024, aimed at strengthening diplomatic ties and boosting tourism.
  • China and Singapore have established a 30-day visa-free policy for their citizens starting 9 February 2024, facilitating tourism, family visits, and business trips.
  • On 9 February 2024, China extended its 30-day visa-free policy to Hainan Province, allowing more entry purposes.
  • From 14 March 2024 to 30 November 2024, China will extend its visa-free policy to six additional European countries, namely Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg, allowing stays of up to 15 days for tourism, business, visiting relatives, and transit.

Reference Link

Sign up for our FREE China Labour Law and Compliance webinar taking place on 26 April 2024!

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SINGAPORE

New Platform for Lower-Wage Workers to Check Salaries

The Progressive Wage Portal (PW Portal), launched as of 26 January 2024, enables lower-wage workers to ensure their wages meet Progressive Wage Model (PWM) or Local Qualifying Salary (LQS) requirements.

It also allows them to view their assigned PWM job levels. The portal provides relevant wage requirements based on the worker’s PWM job role or LQS coverage, helping them verify their job role alignment and accurate payments. It covers employees under PWM and LQS schemes, benefiting around 234,000 full-time lower-wage workers, according to Senior Minister of State Zaqy Mohamad.

Reference Link

Highlights from 2024 Budget for HR and Businesses

Singapore’s 2024 Budget was delivered on 16 February 2024. Important highlights for businesses include:

  • SkillsFuture: Emphasis on workforce transformation with the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit and a new SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme for mid-career workers.
  • Uplift Lower-wage Workers: Measures include raising the qualifying monthly wage cap and increasing Workfare payments, as well as enhancing the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme.
  • Central Provident Fund (CPF): Senior workers’ CPF contribution rates will increase, along with enhancements to retirement schemes such as the Enhanced Retirement Sum and Silver Support Scheme.
  • Retirement: The Majulah Package will provide enhanced benefits for older Singaporeans, while a one-time MediSave Bonus aims to assist adults aged 21 to 50 in reducing healthcare costs and accumulating medical savings for retirement.

Reference Link

Compensation Limits Under Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) To Be Raised

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will implement updated compensation limits in the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) starting 1 November 2025. These adjustments include a 19% increase in compensation limits for death and permanent incapacity, rising to S$269,000 and S$346,000 respectively.

Additionally, the compensation limit for medical expenses will increase by 17% to S$53,000. These revisions, last updated in 2020, reflect MOM’s efforts to align with wage growth and escalating healthcare expenses.

Reference Link

Singapore Retirement and Re-Employment Age Set to Increase

As of 1 July 2026, the retirement age in Singapore will be increased to 64 years old and the re-employment age will be increased to 69 years old. Companies are required to provide eligible employees with re-employment opportunities until they reach the specified age, with the option of adjusted terms if required, or offer alternative employment assistance.

Reference Link

Singapore Set to Increase Minimum Monthly Qualifying Salary For EP Applicants in 2025

In 2025, the minimum monthly qualifying salary for new Employment Pass (EP) applicants will rise from S$5,000 to S$5,600. Additionally, individuals employed in the financial services sector will be required to earn a minimum of S$6,200 per month, an increase from the current threshold of S$5,500.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng announced that the adjusted qualifying salary for EP renewal applications will come into effect on January 1, 2026.

Reference Link

Singapore’s CPF Interest Rate Declines to 4.05% for Special, MediSave, and Retirement Accounts in Second Quarter

The interest rate for CPF members’ Special, MediSave, and Retirement accounts from April to June 2024 will be 4.05%, down from 4.08% in the previous quarter. This rate is based on the 12-month average of 10-year Singapore Government Securities plus 1%.

The interest rate for the Ordinary Account remains unchanged at 2.5%. CPF members will continue to earn extra interest, with those below 55 receiving an additional 1% on the first S$60,000 of their combined balances, capped at S$20,000 for the Ordinary Account. Members aged 55 and above will receive an additional 2% interest on the first S$30,000 of their combined balances, also capped at S$20,000 for the Ordinary Account, and an extra 1% on the next S$30,000.

Reference Link

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MALAYSIA

Compulsory Addition of 2 New Columns on Form CP8D – ‘Employee Status’ and ‘Date of Retirement / End of Contract’

  • Announced as of March 2024, employee status will be classified into one of the following six categories:
    • Management of the organisation
    • Permanent
    • Contract
    • Part-time
    • Interns
    • Other
  • Date of Retirement / End of Contract:
    • This field must be filled out and cannot be left blank. There are three types of dates that can be used to complete this field.

Reference Link

Extension for Employer 2023 Form E Filing Submission

Announced as of March 2024, Malaysia has extended the submission of the Form E filing submission for employers in 2024 from 31 March 2024 to 30 April 2024.

Reference Link

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THAILAND

Thailand Extends Deadline For E-Filing Tax Returns

On 17 January 2024, the Thailand Ministry of Finance announced an additional 8 days of extension for the deadline of e-filing tax returns and various tax forms, between 1 February 2024 and 31 January 2027.

In light of this, it is important to note that the annual corporate income tax return (PND50) and the transfer pricing report must be filed within 158 days of the company’s financial year end. Individuals are required to file their annual personal income tax returns by April 8, while withholding tax returns should be submitted by the 15th day of the subsequent month.

Reference Link

Increase in Minimum Wage in 10 Provinces

Thailand is set to increase its minimum wages in 10 provinces to 400 baht as of 13 April 2024.

The wage increase will be seen at:

  • Bangkok’s Pathumwan and Watthana districts,
  • Chiang Mai’s Nakhon Chiang Mai municipality,
  • All of Phuket,
  • The area under the jurisdiction of tambon Ao Nang administrative organisation in Krabi,
  • Songkhla’s Hat Yai municipality,
  • Surat Thani’s Koh Samui district,
  • Phangnga’s tambon Khuk Khak municipality,
  • Pattaya City in Chon Buri,
  • Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin municipiality,
  • and Rayong’s tambon Ban Phae.

Reference Link

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VIETNAM

The Draft Decree Regulating Personal Data Protection

The Draft decree regulating administrative sanctions in the field of personal data protection is currently under preparation. The third draft, concurrently the latest Draft Decree introduced since May 2023, and Decree No. 13/2023/NĐ-CP has been effective since July 2023. The official Decree is expected to be issued in the near future.

Employees need to be aware of their obligations according to the draft decree to ensure early compliance with the law. The fine could be up to 200,000,000 VND (approximately 8,130 USD), which may be increased up to 5 times or up to 5% of revenue, along with additional penalties and remedial measures, which could be applied to violations such as:

  1. Using personal data for marketing, advertising, or introducing products and services;
  2. Illegally collecting, transferring, and buying or selling personal data;
  3. Obligations to conduct assessments of the impact of personal data processing;
  4. Obligations to conduct assessments of the impact of transferring personal data abroad.

Reference Link

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CAMBODIA

Cambodia Sets New Work Permit Rules for Foreign Employees

On 28 December 2023, Cambodia’s Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MLVT) issued Notification No. 110/23 on the issuance of work permits for foreign employees, in accordance with the country’s Labour Law and Prakas 195 dated 20 August 2014, on work permits and employment cards for foreign employees. This is a more comprehensive notification than existed previously, as it specifically clarifies the parties that are required to apply for work permits and employment cards.
Notification No. 110/23 specifies that the following types of foreign individuals must hold a valid foreign work permit and/or employment card in order to work in Cambodia:

  • A foreign employer whose name is stated in an enterprise’s patent tax certificate must hold a foreign work permit.
  • A foreign employee whose name is stated in an enterprise’s patent tax certificate must hold a foreign work permit and an employment card.
  • Self-employed individuals must hold a foreign work permit and an employment card.

Applications for work permits and employment cards can be submitted through the MLVT’s online portal, accompanied by the following required documents:

  • Valid passport;
  • Latest patent tax certificate;
  • Physical examination form; and
  • Photo (4×6 cm)

However, foreign shareholders and members of the board of directors as defined in the company’s articles of incorporation who do not have a Cambodian resident visa are not required to obtain a work permit or employment card.

Reference Link

Cambodia to Impose Fine for Failure to Register Employees for NSSF

In December 2023, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training urged officials concerned to launch crackdowns to identify companies which have not registered their employees for the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and to impose fine on such firms.

The NSSF officials will investigate those enterprises which have not registered their employees for the NSSF from January 2024.
If the Labour Inspectorate finds an enterprise not complying with the labour law and in violation of worker’s rights, it will suffer a penalty or the case could be sent to court, according to Ministry of Labour spokesman Katta Orn.

Reference Link

Vocational Certificates to be Provided to Skilled Workers

On 6 February 2024, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training said it plans to issue vocational certificates to skilled workers, facilitating their access to improved job opportunities.

A committee will be established to determine the qualifications and competencies necessary for issuing professional certificates to skilled workers. Heng Kimhong, President of the Cambodian Youth Network Association, noted that while employers currently issue experience certificates to verify professional skills, ministry-issued certificates will enhance employment prospects for these workers.

Reference Link

Support System for Migrant Workers Abroad to be Launched

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training in Cambodia aims to implement an emergency response and notification system by 2025 to aid Cambodian migrant workers abroad. Part of their Strategic Plan 2024-2028, it includes producing annual reports in Khmer and English, assessing worker rights and conditions, expanding management systems, and sharing statistical data and best practices to improve working conditions.

Reference Link

Taxpayers Exempted From Penalties for Correcting Past Tax Records

The Royal Government of Cambodia has announced that taxpayers voluntarily correcting accounting records and tax returns before the end of June 2024 will be exempted from additional taxation or fines. This exemption applies to mistakes in tax filings made prior to January 2024. However, any errors occurring after January 2024 will not be exempt from fines or additional taxation.

During tax audits, exemption from administrative sanctions applies if faults have not been identified by auditors or if audit results have not been disclosed. However, correction requests for identified faults post-audit will incur penalties, including an additional 10% tax and a delay interest of 1.5% as per existing tax laws and regulations.

Reference Link

Allowance for More Garment, Footwear and Travel Goods (GFT) Factory Workers Amid Contract Suspension

Workers from 11 additional garment, footwear, and travel goods (GFT) factories, whose labour contracts were suspended due to global demand decline, will receive government allowances, according to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT).

Each affected worker will receive up to US$40 monthly from the government, in addition to an expected US$30 monthly contribution from factory owners. The government allowance, paid in KHR, varies based on the duration of contract suspension, ranging from 81,000 riels ($20) for 7 to 14 days, to 162,000 riels ($40) for 15 days to one month. This support will continue throughout the contract suspension period.

Reference Link

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INDONESIA

New Regulation on Occupational Health and Safety in Confined Space

On November 28, 2023, the Minister of Manpower (“the MOM”) enacted Regulation No. 11 of 2023 concerning Occupational Health and Safety in Confined Spaces (“Regulation 11”). This regulation aims to safeguard workers operating in confined spaces from potential hazards and ensure workplaces are safe, secure, comfortable, and healthy, in accordance with the provisions outlined in Law No. 1 of 1970 on Occupational Safety

Reference Link

Effective Rates for Article 21 Income Tax

The Indonesian Government has issued Regulation No. 58 of 2023 (GR 58) concerning Article 21 Income Tax Deduction Rates for individual taxpayers’ income from works, services, or activities. Effective from 1 January 2024, GR 58 simplifies the calculation and withholding of Article 21 income tax.

GR 58 outlines deduction rates for various income tax brackets based on taxpayer categories, introducing monthly and daily effective rates for tax deduction from employees’ monthly or daily payments.

Reference Link

Indonesia Advances Employee Well-Being By Implementing Fridays Off

State-owned organisations in Indonesia are offering employees the choice to take Fridays off via a compressed working schedule, as long as they meet the 40-hour workweek obligation, as outlined by State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir.

This initiative enables employees to enjoy an extended weekend twice a month and aims to tackle mental health concerns within the workforce.

Reference Link

Indonesia Modifies Naming of National Holidays and Collective Leave in 2024

  • Public holidays:
    • 1 January: New Year 2024 AD
    • 8 February: Isra Mikraj Nabi Muhammad SAW
    • 10 February: Chinese New Year 2575 Kongzili
    • 11 March: Nyepi Holy Day (Saka New Year 1946)
    • 29 March: Jesus Christ died
    • 31 March: Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Easter)
    • 10 to 11 April: Eid al-Fitr 1445 Hijriah
    • 1 May: International Labour Day
    • 9 May: Jesus Christ Ascension
    • 23 May: Vesak Day 2568 BE
    • 1 June: Pancasila Birthday
    • 17 June: Eid al-Adha 1445 Hijriah
    • 7 July: 1 Muharram Islamic New Year 1446 Hijri
    • 17 August: Proclamation of independence
    • 16 September: Maulid Nabi Muhammad SAW
    • 25 December: Birth of Jesus Christ
  • Joint holidays:
    • 9 February: Chinese New Year 2575 Kongzili
    • 12 March: Nyepi Holy Day (Saka New Year 1946)
    • 8, 9, 12 and 15 April: Eid al-Fitr 1445 Hijriah
    • 10 May: Jesus Christ Ascension
    • 24 May: Vesak Day 2568 BE
    • 18 June: Eid al-Adha 1445 Hijriah
    • 26 December: Birth of Jesus Christ

Reference Link

Indonesia Raises Wage Threshold for Pension Security Program

The Employment Social Security Administration (BPJamsostek) has announced an increase in the highest wage limit for the Pension Security program, raising it from Rp9,559,600 to Rp10,042,300. This adjustment came into effect in March 2024.

Reference Link

Religious Holiday Allowances in Indonesia: Obligations for Businesses

With the upcoming Eid-al Fitr holiday in Indonesia expected to fall on around 10-11 April 2024, businesses are obligated to pay the religious holiday allowance, also known as Tunjangan Hari Raya (THR). Indonesia’s Ministry of Manpower has issued Circular Number M/2/HK.04/III/2024 which states that this year’s religious allowance must be paid in full and not in instalments.

Reference Link

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INDIA

New Schemes to Protect Workers in Unorganised Sectors

Per a circular dated 14 December 2023, the government is mandated to provide social security to workers in the unorganised sector as per the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 by formulating suitable welfare schemes on matters relating to life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection, etc.

Life and disability cover is provided through Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY). Risk coverage under PMJJBY scheme for Rs2 lakh in case of death of insured, due to any reason, at an annual premium of Rs436. The risk coverage under PMSBY is Rs2 lakh in case of accidental death or total permanent disability and Rs1 lakh for partial permanent disability due to accident at a premium of Rs20 per annum.

The health and maternity benefits are insured through Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana under deprivation and occupation criteria. It provides health insurance coverage up to Rs5 lakh per family for secondary and tertiary care related hospitalisation.

Reference Link

India Extends Due Date to Upload Wage Details for Higher Pension Until 31 May 2024

The deadline has been extended till 31 May 2024 for employers to upload the wage details online for higher pension, according to the Ministry of Labour and Employment. Previously, the deadline was on 31 December 2023.

Reference Link

India Allows Central Government Women Employees to Nominate Children for Pension in Marital Discord Cases

A female government servant can now nominate her child for family pension instead of her husband in all cases where she has filed a divorce petition or a petition under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act or cases under Indian Penal Code.

Reference Link

India’s Interim Union Budget 2024-25

In the Interim Union Budget 2024-25 released on 1 February 2024, certain income tax reliefs were extended, while small tax claims will be dropped. All tax rates remain unchanged, and there are no significant changes to major taxes. Tax breaks for start-ups and investments by sovereign wealth or pension funds were extended until 31 March 2025.

Additionally, the tax exemption on certain income of International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) units was extended until 31 March 2025. Claims for tax amounts up to INR 25,000 for periods up until the financial year 2009-10 and up to INR 10,000 for the financial years from 2010-11 to 2014-15 will be withdrawn.

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Finance Act 2024 Enacted

The Finance Act 2024, passed to enact measures outlined in the recent Budget, includes several key provisions. Notably, the Act withdraws claims for small tax amounts, extends certain income tax reliefs, and prolongs tax breaks for start-ups and investments by sovereign wealth or pension funds until 31 March 2025.

Additionally, the tax exemption on certain income of International Financial Service Centre units is extended until the same date. However, no significant changes to major taxes or tax rates are introduced in the legislation.

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India Raises Dearness Allowance for Central Government Employees

According to Union Minister Piyush Goyal, the government has sanctioned a 4% raise in dearness allowance for central government employees and dearness relief for pensioners, effective from 1 January 2024.

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PHILIPPINES

Philippines Increases Wages in Caraga Region

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board issued Wage Order No RXIII-18, granting a PHP35 increase in the minimum wage for workers in Caraga (Region 13).

The daily minimum wage of workers in all sectors increases to PHP385. The increase will be given in 2 tranches. The initial increase of PHP20 will be effective 1 January 2024, while the second tranche amounting to PHP15 will be given on 1 May 2024.

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Philippines to Give Financial Assistance of PHP5,000 to Assist Low-Wage Workers

In December 2023, the Department of Labor and Employment and labour groups announced support for the plan of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide a one-time cash aid worth PHP5,000 to private sector employees getting a monthly salary of below PHP23,000.

The fund for the cash aid to be given under the DSWD’s Ayuda sa Kapos sa Kita Program is included in the 2024 national budget.

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Philippines Releases Pay Rules for Regular Holidays and Special (Non-Working) Days in 2024

In December 2023, the Department of Labor and Employment issued guidelines in Labor Advisory No 27, Series of 2023 on the proper computation of workers’ wages for the declared regular holidays and special (non-working) days in 2024. The labour advisory is issued pursuant to Proclamation No 368, Series of 2023, declaring the regular holidays and special (non-working) days for 2024.

The advisory prescribes that employees who will render work during the regular holidays are entitled to 200% of their wage for the first 8 hours. If the employees will not report for work, they shall be paid 100% of their wage for that day, provided they worked or were on leave of absence with pay on the day immediately preceding the regular holiday. If the day immediately preceding the regular holiday is a non-working day in the establishment or the scheduled rest day of the employees, they shall be entitled to holiday pay if they worked or were on leave of absence with pay on the day immediately preceding the non-working day or rest day. Employees who will render overtime work shall be paid an additional 30% of their hourly rate on the said day. Employees who will work on a regular holiday that also falls on their rest day shall be paid an additional 30% of the basic wage of 200%; while those who will render overtime work shall be paid an additional 30% of the hourly rate on the said day.

For the special (non-working) days, the “no work, no pay” principle shall apply unless there is a favourable company policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement granting payment on a special day. Employees who will render work shall be paid an additional 30% of their basic wage on the first 8 hours, while those who will render overtime work shall be paid an additional 30% of their hourly rate on the said day. Employees who will work on a special day that also falls on their rest day shall be paid an additional 50% of their basic wage on the first 8 hours; while those who will render overtime work shall be paid an additional 30% of their hourly rate on the said day.

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Suspension on 3-Year Prescriptive Period for EC Claim Filings Lifted

Philippine News Agency, a government newswire service reported on 6 February 2024 that the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) has reinstated the 3-year prescriptive period for filing Employees’ Compensation (EC) claims with the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Effective from January 18, 2024, claimants once again have three years from the time the cause of action accrued to submit their EC claims. Private sector workers may file with the SSS, while government employees can apply through GSIS. This reinstatement follows the lifting of the suspension imposed during the COVID-19 state of public health emergency.

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Senate Approves Bill to Increase Wages by PHP100

The Senate unanimously approved a bill proposing a PHP100 increase in the salary of private sector workers nationwide. Senate Bill 2534 applies to all minimum wage earners in both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.

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First Tranche of Increase in Daily Minimum Wage for Davao

The approved PHP38 increase to the daily minimum wage in the Davao Region will be implemented in two tranches, as per Wage Order No RBXI-22 by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB-11).

The first tranche of PHP19 per day will take effect on March 6, 2024, bringing the new minimum wage rates to PHP462 per day for non-agricultural sector workers and PHP457 per day for agricultural sector workers. The second tranche, also PHP19 daily, will be implemented on September 1, 2024, raising the minimum wage rates to PHP481 per day and PHP476 per day for the respective sectors.

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Philippines Ratifies International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention

The Philippines has ratified Convention No. 190, becoming the first Asian country and the 38th worldwide to do so. This convention aims to end workplace violence and harassment and provides protection to all workers, including interns and apprentices.

Member states must develop inclusive strategies in collaboration with employers’ and workers’ organisations to prevent and address these issues, emphasising the importance of social dialogue and tripartism.

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PHP20 Minimum Pay for Workers in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)

Workers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will see a PHP20 increase in their daily minimum wage starting February 28, 2024. This adjustment, approved through Wage Order No. BARMM-03 by the Bangsamoro Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board, sets the minimum daily wage at PHP326 for agriculture workers and PHP336 for non-agriculture workers in several provinces and cities.

Cotabato City will have minimum wages set at PHP336 for agriculture workers and PHP361 for non-agriculture workers. However, workers in Special Geographic Areas will not be affected by this wage increase, with their salaries remaining at PHP341 for non-agricultural workers and PHP316 for agricultural workers.

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Philippines House Panel Greenlights Bill Offering Tax Incentives for Companies Hiring Senior Citizens

The House Committee on Ways and Means has endorsed the revenue provisions of the unnumbered substitute Bill advocating for job opportunities for capable senior citizens.

The proposed Employment Opportunities for Senior Citizens and Private Entities Incentives Act consolidates 8 measures. It aims to provide tax incentives to private enterprises hiring senior citizens for a minimum of 6 months. These incentives include a 25% tax deduction from their gross revenue for the total amount disbursed in salary, wages, benefits, and training costs.

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SOUTH KOREA

South Korea Launches Visa for High-Earning Foreigners

Effective 1 January 2024, the government will issue “digital nomad,” or “workation,” visas to foreigners with over a year of work experience in the same industry, and those eligible for remote work, along with their families, in a pilot program beginning 1 January 2024.

The visa allows foreigners to travel across the country while working remotely. Applicants are required to have an annual income twice as much as South Korea’s per capita gross national income (GNI). South Korea’s per capita GNI was KRW42.48 million (US$33,002) in 2023.

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South Korea Expands Child Support for Single Parent Families

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family decided to expand child support for single parent families while children are attending high school. Previously, the support only applied to children under the age of 18 in single parent families. Due to the expansion of the system, children born in February 2006 will receive child support until December 2024 instead of January 2024.

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Plan to Improve Illegal and Unfair Practices in Workplaces Established

The Ministry of Employment and Labour (MOEL) introduced the “Comprehensive Plan for Labour Supervision to enforce “Establish a Workplace Culture of Fairness and Common Sense”. It targets illegal practices through immediate judicial action and fines, focusing on non-payment issues.

Special inspections aim to improve compliance awareness and basic work culture, particularly addressing wage arrears, discrimination, long working hours, and unfair labour practices. Small businesses receive on-site support, while larger companies undergo comprehensive preventive inspections. Citizen participation in labour inspections is expanded, with priority given to public requests for supervision.

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One-Stop Support for Resolving Workplace Labour Issues

The Ministry of Employment and Labour (MOEL) will establish rights relief support teams across 48 local labour offices nationwide to address various workplace issues, including employment equality, foreign employment permits, and unpaid wages. These teams will offer integrated services, replacing the existing counselling departments, which primarily focus on unpaid wage issues. As many cases involve multiple labour law violations, such as workplace harassment, a one-stop system is deemed necessary.

The support teams will provide one-on-one counselling on unpaid wages, workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination, offering legal and practical solutions from the initial consultation stage. Individuals with labour-related complaints can seek counselling through various channels, including the Customer Counselling Centre (1350) and representative telephone lines of local labour offices. Additionally, specialised services such as legal counselling on unpaid wages and psychological support for victims of harassment will be available, along with multilingual counselling and residence support for foreigners.

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South Korea to Offer Incentives for Employers Implementing Reduced Working Hours

In 2024, the Ministry of Employment and Labour will introduce a novel incentive scheme aimed at business proprietors who implement reduced working hours in their establishments. Under this initiative, termed the “work-life balance job incentive,” employers who reduce their employees’ actual working hours by more than 2 hours per week will be eligible for a monthly subsidy of up to KRW300,000 per employee, for a maximum duration of one year.

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South Korea to Provide Assistance for Rental Expenses of Operating Daycare Centres in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

From 2024 onwards, small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit from assistance with rental fees for workplace daycare centres. The government has introduced a new support system specifically for daycare facility rental costs in small and medium-sized businesses, covering 80% of the monthly rent annually, up to a maximum of KRW300 million.

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TAIWAN

Taiwan’s Legislature Officially Passes Minimum Wage Act

On 12 December 2023, the Legislative Yuan passed the Minimum Wage Act, which includes mechanisms for annually reviewing the minimum wage and penalising employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage stipulated in labour agreements.

The act, which was a pledge made by President Tsai Ing-wen during her 2016 presidential campaign, was first approved by the Legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee on 8 October 2023.

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Taiwan Announces Programme For Middle-Aged People or Retirees to Return to Work

Taiwan has launched a new incentive program aimed at encouraging early retirees or middle-aged individuals to return to work, part of government efforts to address the tight labour market. It is expected to benefit 60,000 people annually.

Retroactive to February 1 2024, the program targets “legal retirees” aged 45 or older and unemployed individuals aged 55 or older. Eligibility requires individuals to have been away from the workplace for at least three months and secure employment through a public employment service agency, remaining employed for a minimum of 90 days.

Upon completing 90 days of full-time work, applicants are entitled to a NT$30,000 subsidy, while part-time workers meeting the criteria can receive NT$15,000. This subsidy can be claimed up to two times.

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JAPAN

Firms Required to Set Paternity Leave Targets

Japanese companies with over 100 employees will soon be required to set and disclose targets for male employees’ use of paternity leave. This new legislation aims to reduce the childcare burden on women and encourage parenthood among couples.

It is proposed by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare and will be presented to the National Diet for approval, expected to take effect in April 2025.

A 2022 survey found that 23% of male full-time employees faced obstacles in taking paternity leave due to workplace stress and lack of understanding, indicating the need for organisational changes.

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Japan’s Latest Digital Nomad Visa

Japan’s new digital nomad visa will permit individuals to work from any location within Japan and extends the privilege to include their spouses and children throughout the visa’s duration.

Eligibility for this visa spans countries and territories with which Japan has tax treaties and visa-free agreements, encompassing destinations like Singapore, the United States, Australia, and 46 other locations. Applicants are required to possess private insurance and earn a minimum of ¥10 million annually. Both self-employed individuals and those with dependents are eligible to apply.

The initiative is scheduled to commence in March 2024.

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Amendments to Clearly Stated Working Conditions

As of 1 April 2024, it is mandatory for all employers to clearly state the details regarding the `workplace and scope of change in work’ to employees. In other words, it is essential to clearly state whether there will be a transfer and scope of career change.

Additionally, for fixed-term contract employees, in addition to the above, employers are required to clearly state whether or not there is an upper limit on the number of floors that can be renewed, and when attempting to shorten the upper limit on the number of renewals or the contract period. Additionally, there is also an obligation to clearly state the working conditions when converting to non fixed-term employment.

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Overtime Work Regulations for Construction Industry, Car Driving Industry, and Doctors Become Mandatory

Regarding the upper limits on working hours enacted in 2019, there was a 5-year grace period for overtime work regulations for the construction industry, automobile driving industry, and doctors. As this grace period ends in April 2024, the upper limit on working hours also applies to construction, motor vehicle driving, and doctors.

As a result, it is expected that public transportation services such as buses and taxis will be reduced, progress on construction projects will be delayed, and labour costs will rise.

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AUSTRALIA

Human Rights Commission Will Take Action Against Employers Who Fail to Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment

As of December 2023, the Australian Human Rights Commission is legally empowered to enforce sexual harassment policies in the workplace. following the implementation of the “positive duty” reform as part of the Respect@Work legislation in 2022.

The positive duty requires employers to take “reasonable and proportionate” steps to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sex-based harassment, and victimisation in the workplace as much as possible. In addition, the Human Rights Commission will be able to issue compliance notices or file court applications to compel businesses that have failed to meet the criteria to comply.

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Superannuation Contributions Caps to be Increased

The federal government has announced increases in the standard concessional and non-concessional contributions caps for the fiscal year 2024. Effective from 1 July 2024, the standard concessional contributions cap will rise from $27,500 to $30,000.

Similarly, the non-concessional contributions cap, which is four times the standard concessional contribution cap, will increase from $110,000 to $120,000 on the same date. Consequently, the maximum available under the non-concessional contribution bring-forward provisions will also rise from $330,000 to $360,000.

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Australia Set to Introduce ‘Right to Disconnect’

The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No 2) Bill 2023 proposes a new right to disconnect for employees, preventing unreasonable contact from employers after hours. This includes calls and emails, with penalties for breaches. The Fair Work Commission will intervene if agreements about reasonable contact cannot be reached. Additionally, employees cannot abuse this right.

The recent amendment to the Bill, following government consultation with the crossbench, also simplifies casual provisions for employers. The Bill is part of ongoing industrial relations reforms, with the first round already enacted in December 2023.

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Australia Expands Paid Parental Leave Duration

Australia’s paid parental leave policy has officially been extended to 26 weeks following the successful passage of the government’s initial amendments through the Senate.

Starting from July 2024, the existing 20 weeks of paid leave accessible to parents will progressively increase by two weeks each year until reaching the 26-week mark by 2026. Under the new scheme, parents of children born after 1 July 2024 will be entitled to four weeks of maternity leave (reserved for mothers or primary caregivers), four weeks of paternity leave (allocated to fathers or partners), and up to 14 weeks of parental leave.

The duration of parental leave will continue to grow by two weeks annually until 2026.

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Australia to Provide Superannuation Contributions for Paid Parental Leave

Starting July 2025, parents are slated to receive a 12% superannuation contribution alongside government-funded paid parental leave (PPL), a step aimed at advancing gender equality.

Under this initiative, parents of children born on or after July 1, 2025, will benefit from a 12% superannuation contribution in addition to their government-funded PPL. This measure is anticipated to impact approximately 180,000 families each year.

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Australian Government Announces Delivering Tax Cuts to All Australian Taxpayers, Providing Cost-of-Living Relief

From 1 July 2024, the tax cuts will:

  • Reduce the 19% tax rate to 16%
  • Reduce the 32.5% tax rate to 30%
  • Increase the threshold above which the 37% tax rate applies from $120,000 to $135,000
  • Increase the threshold above which the 45% tax rate applies from $180,000 to $190,000

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NEW ZEALAND

Minimum Wage to Be Hiked to NZ$23.15 an Hour

On 1 February 2024, New Zealand announced that effective from April 1, 2024, the adult minimum wage rate will rise by 2% to NZ$23.15 per hour. However, training wages and starting wages will remain at 80% of the adult minimum wage rate, increasing to NZ$18.52.

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New Zealand Introduces the FamilyBoost Payment Initiative

The New Zealand Government is set to introduce the FamilyBoost payment to aid families with young children in covering rising early childhood education (ECE) expenses. Eligible households can receive up to 25% reimbursement on ECE fees, capped at NZ$75 weekly, after factoring in the 20 Hours Free and MSD Childcare Subsidy.

All families with childcare costs under NZ$180,000 income qualify, with reductions for incomes surpassing NZ$140,000. Inland Revenue calculates eligibility based on the last 3 months’ reported income.

Repayments are facilitated through Inland Revenue’s online platform, myIR, with invoices submitted every 3 months for lump sum refunds. Eligible parents can start applying from October 2024, with the first payment slated for the same month. More details to follow in the Budget 2024 announcements on 30 May 2024.

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