3 takeaways from Day 1 of SWITCH Singapore 2017

19/09/2017

Source: SWITCH

With the slew of startup and tech events happening in the next couple of days, it’s an exciting week for the startup and innovation community in Singapore. Organised by SGInnovate and funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) in Singapore, the Singapore Week of Innovation & TeCHnology (SWITCH) is a platform where complementing tech and innovation events come together to showcase Singapore’s vibrant entrepreneurial and technology innovation ecosystem.

Related reading: How to start a business in Singapore

Now in its second year, SWITCH is bringing together events such as Slush, a global movement originally founded in Helsinki to change attitudes towards entrepreneurship, and the Women In Tech Conference (Asia) 2017.

Day 1 of SWITCH Singapore kickstarted with an opening address by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat. This was followed by a panel discussion on “Imagining a New World with Technology” featuring a star-studded line-up including moderator Steve Leonard, Founding CEO of SGInnovate and panelists Mike Descheneaux, President, Silicon Valley Bank; William Bao Bean, General Partner, SOSV; Taizo Son, CEO, Mistletoe; and Ben Goertzel, Chief Scientist, Hanson Robotics. 

Here, we outline three key takeaways from Day 1 of SWITCH.

1. Nurturing both tech & entrepreneurial talent is crucial for ensuring that ideas get commercialised

When Leonard asked the panelists what they would be looking at in terms of technology developments in the next couple of years, Son shared that one thing to keep our eye on is updating the education system for children. As Minister Heng rightly stated, innovation is driven by people.

It is therefore promising that the Singapore government has introduced initiatives to nurture tech and entrepreneurial talent. Since it was established last year, SGInnovate has been hard at work bringing together entrepreneurs, industry mentors, venture capitalists and research talent through programmes such as globally established Entrepreneur First (EF). The first cohort of EF has built 12 companies and applied for 9 patents, as well as attracted interest from more than 60 investors.

The pace of change today is the slowest it will ever be. – Mike Descheneaux, President, Silicon Valley Bank

More initiatives are set to come. Minister Heng announced two programmes in particular that are targeted at tertiary level institutions. The first is Lean LaunchPad (LLP), a national entrepreneurship training programmes spearheaded by several universities in Singapore. By pushing researchers to talk to potential users and customers and better understand user needs, Lean LaunchPad aims to increase the number of technologies that go to market. Each of the universities – the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) – will run thematic tracks focused on different areas of tech, such as robotics and infocomm technology (ICT). 22 teams have been selected for the programme’s first run.

The other initiative that launched yesterday is Pollinate, an incubator that is targeted at students and alumni from Singapore’s polytechnics. Driven by Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic, Pollinate will give participants opportunities to collaborate with SMEs to address problems in the SME sector.

2. It’s important to think about the social implications of tech advancements as well

As technology and automation become more advanced and replace human jobs, will we create a class of useless people?

Will social structures change in the future from being governed in a centralised manner to something more self-organising?

These were some of the questions that arose during the panel discussion. Indeed, the social implications of tech developments are something that we should start thinking about. On the question of governance, Son was of the view that society will become more decentralised, with smaller communities.

The panelists acknowledged that the disruption brought about by tech advancements, and AI in particular, will make work redundant. There inevitably will be a class of people that will be left jobless.

Goertzel pointed out, however, that human beings can still carry out intellectual, spiritual and artistic pursuits.

There are a lot of things to do besides carrying out tasks to accumulate resources for your survival. Ben Goertzel, Chief Scientist, Hanson Robotics

Yet, Singapore is a country where the social security system greatly favours vulnerable individuals who are at the very least engaged in some form of employment. For instance, one source of top-ups to the social security scheme – known as the Central Provident Fund (CPF) – is contributions from one’s employer. It is not clear how the elimination of an entire layer of jobs will be dealt with. Perhaps it’s time for us to start paying attention to the debate on universal basic income as a potential solution to the upcoming vulnerable class of jobless individuals.

3. Collaboration between incumbents and innovators is how magic is made

In response to a question by a member of the audience on how innovative and traditional companies can best work together to push boundaries, Bao Bean shared about the challenges that MNCs and startups face when working together. For starters, the goals of a MNC and a startup are very far apart and they tend to speak a different language. There therefore tends to be a difference in expectations when working together. In his experience working with startups and MNCs, the best approach seems to be to match a startup to an MNC where the startup works with the corporate on something specific and roll that out. Thus far, large corporates that he has worked with include Johnson & Johnson, Nestle and Visa.

Companies are good at executing. Startups are good at experimenting. It’s hard to bring those things together. – Steve Leonard, Founding CEO of SGInnovate

Yet, magic happens precisely at the intersection of experimentation and execution.

Come say hi to he Dragons at SWITCH Singapore 2017!

 

Here at Zegal, we recognise that striving to best serve our clients means working together with other organisations and companies when necessary. This is why we collaborate with law firms, corporate advisory firms and HR consultancies via our Zegal Certified Advisors programme. On top of access to all the features in the Zegal app, clients who opt for our Premium Plan will also get a dedicated law firm that they can turn to should they require specialised advice or document drafting.

Claim your free trial. Start drafting legal documents with Zegal today.

Attending SWITCH 2017?

Share your experience with us in the comments below! 

Are You Aware Of These Employment Laws In Singapore?

Hiring employees in Singapore is definitely not infringing on any laws. However, before do you so, are you aware that as an employer, you have to fulfill certain obligations under the Employment Act?

On top of detailing the minimum terms and conditions of employment, the Employment Act also spells out the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees under a contract of service. Moreover, if your employee is a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident, you as an employer is required to pay Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for them.

Here is an overview of the Employment Act that you, as an employer, need to be aware of.

Which employees are covered under the Employment Act?

The Employment Act covers every employee (regardless of nationality) who is under a contract of service with the employer. However, the following employees are not covered under the Employment Act:

  • Managers and executives who earn basic monthly salaries of more than S$4,500
  • Seafarers
  • Domestic workers
  • Statutory board and government employees

Payment of Salary

You should pay your employees salary and overtime pay at least once a month. Salary has to be disbursed to employees within 7 days after the end of the salary period. Overtime pay has to be paid to employees within 14 days after the end of the salary period.

Working Hours

Under the Employment Act, your employees should not work more than 44 hours a week (excluding break time and overtime). All work done in excess of the contractual hours is considered as overtime work. Additionally, do note that overtime payment is at 1.5 times the hourly basic rate if you require your employees to work overtime.

Including overtime, the total working hours should not exceed 12 hours a day and total overtime must not exceed 72 hours a month.

Rest Days

You should grant your employees at least one rest day every week without pay. If you require your employee to work on a rest day, you should pay them based on the terms specified under the Employment Act.

Public Holidays, Sick Leave and Annual Leave

All your employees are entitled to 11 paid public holidays per year. Should you require your employee to work on a public holiday, they should be given either an extra day’s salary or a replacement day off.

Under the Employment Act, your employees are entitled to paid outpatient sick leave and hospitalisation leave annually if they have:

  • Worked with the organisation for at least 3 months
  • Obtained a medical certificate from the company doctor, company approved doctor or a government doctor
  • Informed you of the sick leave within 48 hours

Do keep in mind that for new employees, the number of days of paid sick leave entitlement is prorated according to their service period.

Your employees are entitled to paid annual leave if they have worked at least 3 months for you. For new employees with less than a year length of service, they are entitled to prorated annual leave based on the months of service.

If you happen to hire part-time employees (those who work less than 35 hours a week under a contract of service), do remember that they are entitled to employment benefits such as paid public holidays, sick leave, annual leave and childcare leave. However, their entitlement should be prorated according to the number of hours worked by a similar full-time employee.

CPF Contributions

As an employer, you are required to pay CPF contributions to all employees who are Singapore Citizens/Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) earning more than S$50 per month.

This is also applicable even if your employees are hired on a part-time/ad-hoc/contract basis or during their probation period.

Related reading: What are my CPF contribution obligations as an employer in Singapore?

Key Employment Terms (KETs)

Effective 1 April 2016, as an employer, you are required to issue key employment terms (KETs) in writing to all employees covered under the Employment Act.

Essentially, these KETs can be issued in soft or hard copy and should be given to all employees within 14 days from the start of employment.

Items to include in the KETs can be found on the MOM website.

Itemised Payslips

Likewise, you are required to issue all your employees itemised payslips to employees covered under the Employment Act.

Details on what items to include can be found on the MOM website.

Non-compliance

It is imperative to be familiar with the Employment Act to avoid incurring any unnecessary costs or non-compliance with these statutory laws.

Non-compliance of the Employment Act can result in a fine of between S$3,000 and S$15,000 and/or maximum of 6 months’ jail term.

Additionally, subsequent offenders are subjected to a fine of between S$6,000 and S$30,000 and/or maximum 12 months’ jail term.

If you have yet to familiarise yourself with the employment laws in Singapore, perhaps it is high time that you do so!

Claim your free trial. Start drafting legal documents with Zegal today.

This is a guest post from RenQun Huang at Gpayroll
Want to read more articles related to payroll, HR & technology? Visit us at Gpayroll

[Press Release] ECYT launches first Zegal white label product

18/09/2017

ECYT Law LLC Partners With Zegal to Provide Businesses Seeking to Expand Through Asia and USA With Technology-Driven Legal Services.

ECYT Law LLC, a leading Singapore-based commercial law firm, has announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Zegal, a prominent cloud-based legal software company, to provide efficient, technology-driven, and customized legal services to SMEs in Asia and the USA seeking to expand into and throughout Asia and the USA. The partnership of ECYT Law LLC and Zegal will provide SMEs and multinational corporations with increased, cost-effective access to legal services. The technology will help individuals and entities seeking to do business in Asia and the USA with legal documentation that satisfies national and international compliance standards, enter into transactions with business partners, and conduct business with investors and employees.

Through this unprecedented partnership, ECYT Law LLC will provide SME clients with a suite of online legal tools providing cost-effective and automated solutions along with customized legal advice from experienced business attorneys to help SMEs meet their legal challenges and reach their goals in an efficient matter. Among the online legal tools provided through this partnership are customized document building, sharing, and electronic signing, fully powered by Zegal’s technology, which has already served 15,000 SMEs from its offices across Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Through Zegal’s live-chat function, ECYT Law LLC will provide industry-tailored legal advice and guidance on, among other matters, the drafting of essential legal documents as well as the review or amendment of such documents, allowing businesses to efficiently and cost-effectively manage their day-to-day and long-term legal needs.

The partnership reflects ECYT Law LLC’s and Zegal’s shared commitment to making legal services more accessible and affordable for SMEs and ECYT Law LLC’s commitment to embracing changes in the legal landscape that have been brought about by technology. ECYT Law LLC has a long-standing commitment to being a leading provider of cost-effective legal services to SMEs both in Singapore, Hong Kong, Guangdong and the USA – as well as businesses across the world seeking to expand their reach into Singapore, Asia and the USA. With this newly announced partnership with Zegal, ECYT Law LLC looks forward to serving many more SME clients with affordable and comprehensive legal services.

About ECYT Law

ECYT Law LLC has been providing a wide variety of legal services to SMEs doing business in Singapore and across Asia for over 2 years. Its founder, Eric Chew, has been in practice for 18 years. From its offices in Singapore, San Francisco and Hong Kong, ECYT Law LLC provides SMEs with legal advice in the areas of Building and Construction; Commercial and Corporate; Data Protection; Dispute Resolution; Employment Issues; Insolvency and Restructuring; Intellectual Property; Landlord and Tenant Law; Probate, Estates & Trusts and Maritime Law.

About Zegal

With approximately 60 staff across Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, Zegal offers a cloud-based software that empowers users to save time and money by actively managing the legal aspects of their business. Since its conception in 2012 and launch in 2014, Zegal has grown to a user base of more than 15,000, most of which are small and medium-sized businesses, in-house counsels, lawyers and business advisors. Recently, Zegal announced its integration with Xero, the award-winning cloud accounting software.

For further information, please contact:
Raisa Vitales, Project Manager,
+65 6812 0491
9am-6pm GMT+8
raisa.vitales@ecytlaw.com

What the heck is legaltech?

14/09/2017

by Chris Sykes, Legal Tech Evangelist @ Zegal

The prodigal solicitor returns

I’ve recently returned to the UK to prepare for the launch of Zegal here. In an attempt to build up a network of law firms (some of whom will work with us) I naturally reached out to old friends and colleagues in my profession. I’ve been away from the UK for over 6 years, but some of them remembered the scruffy criminal lawyer of days gone by.

After years of being at the centre of the legal tech scene in Hong Kong, Zegal’s Chris Sykes is now back in the UK as Legal Tech Evangelist!

What the hell do you do?

I’m not so daft that I would think other busy professionals would follow my adventures away from the UK, and many friends simply assumed I’d been working for a law firm in Hong Kong that has a cool logo. However, what did surprise me was that many lawyers didn’t know what legaltech (often lawtech in the UK) is at all.

Admittedly, this is not surprising in the area of criminal law in which I used to work. The criminal justice process is very ‘offline’ indeed and lawyers are too busy staying up to date with case law and the masses of new criminal legislation to worry about advances in artificial intelligence (AI) for evidence review. However, many in other areas of practice do not follow recent developments in this field, perhaps because it’s perceived as a ‘big law’ thing that can’t be used by smaller firms. I’m not sure.

Everything changes but you

In every area of law I believe it’s worth staying abreast of changes in technology whether you work in crime, employment, or corporate.  In other professions it’s imperative to keep up-to-date – a surgeon of 30 years experience still uses the latest surgical technology.

I’m not suggesting that all legaltech is great or even useful, but a lot certainly is. Globally many regulators and governments have started to take steps to ensure that they are part of the technological changes in the legal profession.  A recent report by the Singapore Academy of Law is a prime example.

What is most startling about the above report is the scope of stakeholders involved in the consultation: the Law Society of Singapore, the Ministry of Law, government lawyers, leading academics, technology companies, and a variety of different law firms of all sizes.

Not London

Of course, I don’t suggest that lawyers in the UK are disinterested across the board. London in particular has a huge number of lawyers and entrepreneurs involved in LegalTech – check out the amazing Legal Geek for a start. Maybe the excitement of my industry has yet to be felt ‘up north’ and in the smaller firms of England’s northern cities. Time will tell and I guess my role is to blow the legaltech trumpet on the streets of Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield.

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

How to start a business in Singapore

The small and bustling city of Singapore prides itself on being business-friendly. Companies that site their international headquarters in Singapore stand to benefit from Singapore’s network of over 50 comprehensive Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements, many free trade agreements (FTAs) and strong intellectual property (IP) laws that ensures protections for your ideas and innovations. Given that Singapore is New Zealand’s sixth top trading partner and Australia’s seventh top trading partner – and the top trading partner in Southeast Asia in both these countries – New Zealand and Australian businesses looking to expand into the region would recognise Singapore as a prime location.

Related reading: 5 Reasons to Set Up Your Business in Singapore

Here, we give you the lowdown on how to start up your business in Singapore.

Registering your business

Registering your business in Singapore is an incredibly convenient process, as all applications can be submitted at BizFile by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). Simply log into BizFile using your identification and SingPass, Singapore’s online account management for access to all of the government’s e-services. If you are a foreign applicant without a SingPass, you may choose to engage the services of a registered filing agent (e.g. a law firm, accounting firm or corporate secretarial firm).

Decide business structure

Before registering your business, think about the advantages and disadvantages of each type of business structure and determine which best suits your needs. The following business structures are available to you:

  • Sole Proprietorship;
  • Partnership;
  • Company;
  • Limited Liability Partnership;
  • Limited Partnership.

Your choice of business structure will impact your personal liability, paperwork and tax obligations. To learn more about the the differences between the various business structures, check out ACRA’s comparison table of the forms of business structure our post on how to choose the right business structure.

Reserve your business name

When registering their business entity, business owners have to ensure that the proposed name is not:

  • undesirable;
  • identical to the name of any business entity or charity;
  • identical to a name that has been reserved.

Therefore, you should first do a search on BizFile to ensure that the name is not already taken, taking into consideration the guidelines for searching for identical or similar names and checking for names with similar pronunciations available in Practice Direction No. 4 of 2003.

Register your business

Before beginning the registration process online, make sure you have the following documents at hand:

  • Your company name;
  • A brief description of your business and the scope of its activities;
  • Paid up capital amount;
  • Shareholder particulars;
  • Details of your directors;
  • Registered office address in Singapore;
  • Company secretary particulars.

Read more: Documents required when incorporating your business

If you have decided that you will register your business as a company, you can do so by lodging the relevant forms on BizFile. There is a registration fee that depends on the type of business entity you wish to register.

You will typically receive approval from ACRA within a few hours after a name is approved. This may take longer in the case that there are foreign directors or shareholders, and there may be requests for additional documentation before approval is granted.

Once incorporation of your business has been approved, you will be issued the following documents:

  • Certificate of Incorporation: You will receive this via email and it will contain your company registration number, known as the Unique Entity Number (UEN).
  • Company Business Profile: This is a document containing your company’s particulars. You can request for a PDF copy of this for an application fee.

Armed with these two documents, you are ready to go about conducting business in Singapore.

Want more comprehensive information about how to go about registering your company in Singapore? Learn more with our eBook Incorporating in Singapore:

Download your free eBook

 

After incorporation

Once your company is incorporated, it is time to get your business up and running. Whenever transacting on behalf of your business on the government’s e-services portals, you can do so using either you SingPass or CorpPass, a newly launched corporate digital identity that allows for online services to be accessed conveniently and securely.

Open a corporate bank account

In order to set up a bank account with a bank in Singapore, the banks would typically require you to supply a list of documents that they set out in their application forms. Most of the major banks require the physical presence of the executive director and authorised signatory as part of the procedure. However, this is not an absolute rule and some exceptions may be made on a case by case basis – for instance, if you are able to sign the paperwork at one of the bank’s overseas branches or in the presence of a notary public. This is subject to the bank’s discretion and you should enquire directly with the bank.

Set up an employer’s CPF account

As an employer, you may be required to make Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for the employees that you hire. In order to transact with the CPF board (e.g. make CPF payments), you would first need to apply to e-submit your CPF contribution details on CPF e-Submit@web. Upon approval, you will receive an email containing your CPF Submission Number (CSN). To learn more about your CPF obligations, check out the Employer Guides by the CPF Board.

Ensure compliance with local laws

As a business operating in Singapore, ensure that you abide by the various laws that apply to your category of business entity. This may include the following:

  • Filing annual returns. Under the Singapore Companies Act, all locally-incorporated companies are required to hold their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and file their Annual Returns online via BizFile. You may also be required to file your accounts in your Annual Return.This can be done either by an appointed officer of the company (e.g. director or company secretary) or by a registered filing agent engaged by the company.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST). You may be liable to charge this tax to your clients on goods and services provided and remit this amount to the tax authorities if your company’s annual turnover exceeds S$1 million. Use the GST Registration Calculator by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) to determine whether your company needs to register for GST.

 

Legal made digital:

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

Do you have any additional tips for setting up your business in Singapore?

Share with us in the comments below!

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