Singapore

Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

The Employment Act governs the labor and employment relations in Singapore. It provides for the basic terms and working conditions for all types of employees, with some exceptions.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

Under Part IV of the Employment Act, a “week” is defined as a continuous period of 7 days beginning at midnight on Sunday. The standard length of a workday is 8 hours, but the workday may be up to 9 hours a day if the employee works a 5-day week or is required to work fewer than eight hours on one or more days of the week. 

 

On the Basis of Agreement between employer and employee –

    • Where the number of hours of work on one or more days of the week is less than 8, the limit of 8 hours may be exceeded on the remaining days of the week, but so that no employee shall be required to work for more than 9 hours in one day or 44 hours in one week;
    • Where the number of days on which the employee is required to work in a week is not more than 5 days, the limit of 8 hours in one day may be exceeded but so that no employee shall be required to work more than 9 hours in one day or 44 hours in one week; and
    • Where, the number of hours of work in every alternate week is less than 44, the limit of 44 hours in one week may be exceeded in the other week, but so that no employee shall be required to work for more than 48 hours in one week or for more than 88 hours in any continuous period of 2 weeks.

Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  38.

Overtime

If an employee at the request of the employer works more than 8 hours in one day/ 44 hours in one week, he/she shall be paid for such extra work at the rate of not less than one and a half times his hourly basic rate of pay irrespective of the basis on which his rate of pay is fixed. An employee shall not be permitted to work overtime for more than 72 hours a month. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  38.

Night Work

“Night” is defined as the period between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. A pregnant workman may not be required to work at night without her consent and a letter from her doctor certifying her as fit. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968.

Breaks

Rest Break

Employees shall not be required to work more than 6 consecutive hours without a period of leisure.

 

Meal Break – inclusive of a period or periods of not less than 45 minutes in the aggregate during which he shall have the opportunity to have a meal during the 8 consecutive hours of work. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  38.

Work On Rest Days

Employees shall be allowed in each week, a rest day without pay, one whole day which shall be Sunday or such other day as may be determined from time to time by the employer. The employer must prepare a schedule before the beginning of the month in which the rest days fall, informing employees of the employer appointed rest days.

 

The employer may substitute any continuous period of 30 hours as a rest day for an employee engaged in shift work.

 

Compensation for Work Performed on Rest Day

      • For work performed on request of Employee –

Work on a rest day if is less than or equal to normal days work  – the regular rate of pay

      • For Work Performed on request of Employer – 

Employee work on rest day does not exceed half his normal hours of work – regular pay rate of pay. If the period of work is more than half but does not exceed his normal hours of work – a Basic rate of pay for 2 days’ work.

 

Compensation for Overtime Work performed on a Rest Day

    • Work performed on request of Employee –  If work hour exceeds normal working hours – one and a half times the hourly basic rate of pay for each hour.
    • For Work performed on Request of Employer – a basic rate of pay for 2 days’ work and, one and a half times his hourly basic rate of pay for each hour or part thereof that the period of work exceeds his normal hours of work for one day. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  37

Public Holidays

Under the Holidays Act, employers are required to provide paid time off to employees for the following public holidays:

      • Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
      • Chinese New Year (two days)
      • Good Friday
      • May 1: Labor Day
      • Vesak Day (Buddha’s birthday)
      • Aug. 9: National Day
      • Hari Raya Puasa (End of Ramadan)
      • Deepavali (Hindu New Year)
      • Hari Raya Haji (Feast of Sacrifice)
      • Dec. 25: Christmas Day

An employee required to work on a holiday is entitled to an extra day’s salary in addition to the gross rate of pay for that day or a full-day off and to a traveling allowance, if payable to him under the terms of his agreement with his employer, for one day.

 

The employee shall be paid the gross rate of pay for that day and maybe given the following, in lieu of a day off in substitution for that holiday or an extra day’s salary at the basic rate of pay:

        • Part of a day off on a working day comprising such number of hours as may be agreed between the employee and his employer; and
        • In the case where there is no such agreement part of a day off on a working day comprising 4 hours if the employee worked on that holiday for a period not exceeding 4 hours; or a day off on a working day if the employee worked on that holiday for a period of more than 4 hours.

If any public holiday falls on a rest day, the working day next following that rest day shall be a paid holiday. When a holiday falls on a Sunday, the next day that is not a holiday is celebrated as the holiday.

 

An employee who is absent from work on the day before or after a holiday without the consent of the employer or without reasonable excuse will not be paid for the holiday. No employee shall be entitled to holiday pay for any public holiday which falls on a day when the employee is on leave of absence without pay granted by the employer at the request of the employee. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  88; Holidays Act, 1998, No. 8, §  4.

Annual Leave

An employee who has worked for an employer for at least three months is entitled to seven days of paid annual leave from the employer after one full year of service (prorated for a part-year). Payment for annual leave is calculated at the employee’s gross rate of pay.

 

An employee who has served an employer for a period of not less than 3 months is, in addition to the rest days, holidays and sick leave, is entitled to:

      • 7 days of paid annual leave, for the first 12 months of continuous service with the same employer;
      • An additional one day of paid annual leave, for every subsequent 12 months of continuous service with the same employer;
      • A maximum of 14 days of paid annual leave.

An employee who has served an employer for a period of not less than 3 months, but has not completed 12 months of continuous service in any year, is entitled to annual leave in proportion to the number of completed months of service in that year. In calculating the proportionate annual leave — 

        • Any fraction of a day that is less than one-half of a day must be disregarded; and
        • Where a fraction of a day is one-half or more, it must be regarded as one day.

Where an employee is granted a leave of absence without pay by an employer at the request of the employee, the period of the leave is to be disregarded for the purpose of computing the period of continuous service. 

 

An employee forfeits the employee’s entitlement to annual leave if the employee absents himself from work without the permission of the employer, or without reasonable excuse, for more than 20% of the working days in the months or year (as the case may be) in which the employee’s entitlement to annual leave accrues.

 

The employer must grant, and the employee must take, the employee’s paid annual leave not later than 12 months after the end of every 12 months of continuous service; and if the employee fails to take that leave by the end of that period, the employee ceases to be entitled to that leave.

 

An employer must pay an employee the employee’s gross rate of pay for every day of paid annual leave. If an employee is dismissed on any ground other than misconduct before the employee has taken all of the employee’s paid annual leave, the employer must pay the employee the employee’s gross rate of pay in respect of every day of that leave not taken by the employee. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  43.

Minimum Wage

There is no general minimum wage law in Singapore, but the National Wage Council issues wage guidelines.

Special Leave

Adoption Leave

Adoptive mothers of children under 12 months old are entitled to 12 weeks’ paid leave. To qualify, the woman must have worked for her employer at least three months immediately prior to the adoption and the child must be a Singapore citizen. If the child is a foreigner, one of the adoptive parents must be a Singapore citizen and the child must become a Singapore citizen within six months of adoption. Adoption leave must be concluded prior to the child’s first birthday. The first four weeks of the leave period are paid by the employer; the remaining eight weeks are paid by the government. Adoptive fathers of children under 12 months old are entitled to two weeks’ paid leave. To qualify, the father must have worked for his employer at least three months immediately prior to the adoption and the child must be a Singapore citizen. If the child is a foreigner, one of the adoptive parents must be a Singapore citizen and the child must become a Singapore citizen within six months of adoption. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Ch. 38A.

Child Care & Extended Child Care Leave

The employee shall be entitled to childcare leave for that relevant period of —

      • 2 days, if he serves his employer for a period of fewer than 5 months during that relevant period;
      • 3 days, if he serves his employer for a period of not less than 5 months but less than 7 months during that relevant period;
      • 4 days, if he serves his employer for a period of not less than 7 months but less than 9 months during that relevant period;
      • 5 days, if he serves his employer for a period of not less than 9 months but less than 11 months during that relevant period; and
      • 6 days, if he serves his employer for not less than 11 months during that relevant period.

Where any employee —

        • Has served an employer for a period of not less than 3 months; and
        • Has any child who is of or above the age of 7 years but below the age of 13 years, and who is, or who becomes, a qualifying child, at any time during any relevant period,

the employee shall be entitled to 2 days of extended childcare leave for that relevant period.

An employee shall not be entitled to:

          • more than 42 days of childcare leave in respect of any qualifying child;
          • more than 12 days of extended childcare leave in respect of any qualifying child; and
          • more than a combined total of 6 days of childcare leave and extended childcare leave during any relevant period.

To qualify, the child must be a Singapore citizen. If an employee qualifies for both childcare leave and extended childcare leave under the Child Development Co-Savings Act, the maximum that may be taken is six days in a year.

 

An employer shall pay an employee who is entitled to childcare leave or extended childcare leave, as the case may be, his gross rate of pay for every day of such leave that is taken by the employee. The amount shall not exceed $500 for each subsequent day. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Chapter 38A, § 12B

Maternity Leave

Female employees are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave if they have worked for their employer for at least three months and the child is—or will be—a Singapore citizen. The first eight weeks of leave are paid by the employer; the remaining eight weeks are paid by the government. The paid benefit is capped at S$10,000 per month. A woman qualifies for only 12 weeks’ leave if she has worked for her employer less than three continuous months or if her child is not a Singaporean citizen. She will receive eight weeks’ pay from her employer if she has fewer than two living children of her own at the time of delivery. The remaining four weeks are unpaid. If a mother seeks to use maternity leave and the father, with the mother’s agreement, seeks to use shared parental leave for the same child, the mother’s total number of available weeks of maternity leave would be reduced by the number of shared paternal leave taken by the father. If at least one week’s notice of intent to take maternity leave is not given, leave payment is halved. An employer may not require an employee to work at any time during the first four weeks after childbirth. With the consent of the employer, the final eight weeks of maternity leave may be taken on a flexible basis at any time before the child’s first birthday. Employees cannot be dismissed while they are on maternity leave.

 

A female employee who delivers a child before 1st May 2013, and whose estimated delivery date for her confinement in respect of that child (as certified by a medical practitioner) is before 1st May 2013, shall not be entitled to any pay during the benefit period if she has served her employer for less than 90 days immediately preceding the day of her confinement.

 

Where a female employee has worked in her employment for any day during the benefit period before her confinement, she shall be entitled to receive in addition to her gross rate of pay for that day an amount that is equivalent to a day’s pay at the gross rate of pay or to absent herself from work on another day at the end of the benefit period.

 

If a female employee, after giving notice to her employer, abstains from work in expectation of her confinement and dies from any cause before her confinement, the employer shall pay to the person nominated by her or, if there is no such person, to her personal representative a sum of money at the rate prescribed from the date immediately following the last day on which she worked to the day immediately preceding the day of her death. Child Development Co-Savings Act; Employment Act, Ch. 91, 1968.

Military Leave

An employer must grant a leave of absence for the duration of an enlistment period and must reinstate an employee who has been in continuous employment for at least six months prior to the date on which the employee was to report for active in national service for the Singapore Armed Forces, including the Police Force. Enlistment Act, 1970.

Paternity Leave

Working fathers who have been continuously employed for at least three months are entitled to two weeks of government-paid paternity leave if:

      • they are married to the child’s mother, and
      • the child is a citizen of Singapore or will become a citizen of Singapore by the time he or she is one year old.

The two weeks of leave can be taken in a continuous block within 16 weeks of the child’s birth, or within 12 months from the birth of the child (subject to an agreement with the employer). Working fathers are also entitled to share 4 weeks of their wife’s 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Ch. 38A.

Sick Leave

An employee with at least six months’ service is entitled to paid sick leave up to 14 days per year if no hospitalization is required. If hospitalization is required, sick leave is limited to the lesser of 60 days or 14 days plus the number of days the employee was hospitalized.

 

An employee with at least 3 months’ service but less than 6 months’ is entitled to sick leave for up to 5 days if no hospitalization is required. If hospitalization is required, sick leave is limited to the lesser of 15 days in each year or the aggregate of 5 days plus the number of days on which he is hospitalized.

 

An employee with at least 4 months of service but less than 5 months is entitled to paid sick leave of up to 8 days if not hospitalized. If hospitalization is required the lesser of 30 days in each year or the aggregate of 8 days plus the number of days on which he is hospitalized.

An employee with at least 5 months of service but less than 6 months of service is entitled up to 11 days of paid sick leave if no hospitalization is required. If Hospitalization is needed the lesser of 45 days in each year or the aggregate of 11 days plus the number of days on which he is hospitalized.

 

An employee whose sick leave has not been certified by a medical practitioner or who has failed to notify the employer within 48 hours of beginning sick leave is deemed to be away from work without permission and without a reasonable excuse. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968.

Unpaid Infant Care Leave

Working parents who have been employed continuously for at least 3 months, who have a child under the age of two years of age are entitled to 6 days of unpaid infant care leave a year if the child is a Singapore citizen.

 

Employee shall not be entitled to more than 12 days of unpaid infant care leave in respect of any qualifying child. The unpaid infant care leave shall be in addition to the rest days, holidays, annual leave and sick leave to which an employee is entitled. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Ch. 38A.

Last updated on: January 30th, 2020