Singapore

Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

Statutory rights and obligations are provided in key part with regard to some employees by the Employment Act. The Employment Act defines an employee as a person who works under a contract of service with an employer. The Employment Act applies to all employees in Singapore, with some notable exceptions. As per the amendment effective April 1, 2019, all employees, whether managers and executives, workmen and non-workmen, will be covered by the core provisions under the Employment Act. Core provision includes salary payment, paid annual leave, paid sick leave, paid public holiday, dismissal and employment record.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

Under Part IV of the Employment Act, a “week” is defined as a continuous period of seven days beginning at midnight on Sunday. The standard length of a workday is eight hours, but the workday may be up to nine hours a day if the employee works a five-day week or is required to work fewer than eight hours on one or more days of the week. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968.

 

Provided that —

    • An employee who is engaged in work which must be carried on continuously may be required to work for 8 consecutive hours 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;
    • Where, by agreement under the contract of service between the employee and the employer, 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, by agreement under the contract of service between the employee and the employer, 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, by agreement under the contract of service between the employee and the employer, 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. 

Overtime

For Part IV employees, the Employment Act limits overtime to 72 hours per month, paid at 150 percent of the normal hourly rate. Any Part IV employee who, at the request of the employer, works more than an average of 44 hours per week over a three-week period must be compensated for the extra hours worked at 150 percent of the worker’s basic rate of pay. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968.

For the purpose of calculating the payment due for overtime to an employee, the employee’s hourly basic rate of pay shall be taken to be:

    • In the case of a person employed on a monthly rate of pay, 12 times his monthly basic rate of pay divided by 52 times 44 hours; and
    • In the case of a person employed on piece rates, the total weekly pay at the basic rate of pay received divided by the total number of hours worked in the week.

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

A Part IV employee must not be required to work more than six consecutive hours without a break, but, if the employee is engaged in work that must be carried on continuously, this may stretch up to eight hours including at least one break of not less than 45 minutes to have a meal. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968.

Work On Rest Days

Part IV of the Employment Act provides for a rest day without pay, which may be Sunday or another day as determined by the employer. The employer must prepare a schedule before the beginning of the month in which the rest days fall, informing Part IV employees of the employer appointed rest days. No Part IV employee may be compelled to work on a rest day unless the nature of the work requires it to be carried on continuously by a succession of shifts. Any disputes regarding this matter may be brought to the Commissioner for Labour.

For work performed on a rest day at the employee’s request, the Employment Act provides that the employee will be paid as follows:

  • Guaranteed one-half a day’s salary for working one-half or less of the normal hours of work for a day; or
  • Guaranteed one day’s salary for working more than one-half of the normal hours but not exceeding the normal hours, at the basic rate of pay.
  • Guaranteed one day’s salary for the hours worked up to the normal hours for the day, at the basic rate of pay, and one and one times the regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of the normal working hours for a day.

For work performed on a rest day at the employer’s request, the Employment Act provides that the employee will be paid as follows:

  • Guaranteed one day’s salary for working one-half or less of the normal hours of work for a day; or
  • Guaranteed two days’ salary for working more than one-half of the normal hours but not exceeding the normal hours, at the basic rate of pay.
  • Guaranteed two days’ salary for the hours worked up to the normal hours for the day, at the basic rate of pay, and one and one times the regular hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of the normal working hours for a day.

Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968.

Public Holidays

If an employee is required by the employer to work on a holiday, the employer must pay an extra day’s salary at the basic rate of pay or one day’s work in addition to the gross rate of pay for that day. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968; Holidays Act, 1998, No. 8, § 4.

Annual Leave

According to the Employment Act, a Part IV 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 is entitled to one additional day’s leave for every subsequent year of service, up to a maximum of 14 days. Leave for non-Part IV employees is not subject to statute and will be as specified in the individual employment contract or collective agreement. A Part IV employee forfeits statutory annual leave if he or she is absent from work without permission or excuse for more than 20 percent of the working days in the months or year (as the case may be) in which his or her entitlement accrues.

 

Unused statutory leave does not roll over to the next service year; employees lose any unused leave and are not paid for it. Upon termination, an employee is reimbursed for unused statutory annual leave, unless he or she is dismissed for misconduct. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968.

 

From April 1, 2019, annual leave entitlement, subject to the limits imposed under the EA, will apply to all employees (which, as mentioned above, would include any employees who are currently non-EA Employees). Interestingly, even after April 1, 2019, only Part IV Employees are expressly permitted by law to carry over any unused statutory annual leave in any leave year for the next 12 months.

 

Where an employee is granted 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.

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 Leave

An employee who has at least three months’ service with an employer is entitled to six days per year of leave to care for a child younger than seven years old. To qualify, the child must be a Singapore citizen. The first three days of childcare leave are employer-paid, and the last three are paid by the government. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Ch. 38A.

Extended Child Care Leave

An employee with at least three months of continuous months of employment qualify for extended childcare leave if the employee’s child must be at least seven years of age but below the age of 13 and must be or become a citizen at any time during the relevant period. The period of extended childcare leave is two days per year. 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. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Ch. 38A.

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. 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 are entitled to two weeks of government-paid paternity leave and another four weeks of shared parental leave during the mother’s maternity leave if they are married to the child’s mother, the child is a citizen of Singapore, and the mother qualifies for government-paid maternity leave. Paternity leave may be taken in one block within the 16-week period following the birth of the child. Alternatively, by mutual agreement of the employer and employee, paternity leave may be taken as a single block or split into multiple blocks at any time within 12 months after the birth of the child. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Ch. 38A.

Shared Parental Leave

Working fathers who are lawfully married a child’s mother who qualifies for maternity leave can apply to share up to 4 weeks of your wife’s 16 weeks of Government-Paid Maternity Leave, subject to your wife’s agreement. 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 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. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Ch. 38A.

Last updated on: September 16th, 2019