Singapore

Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

The Labor Law in Singapore is regulated mainly by the Employment Act, 1968. The Act governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays and rest periods, wages, overtime, employment relationships. The other acts that govern employment relationships are Child Development Co Savings Act and the Holidays Act.

 

Part IV of the Employment Act covers maximum working hours, mandatory rest days, and statutory overtime pay. Currently, Part IV applies only to employees in the below manner: 

      • Workmen earn up to S$4,500 per month.
      • Non-workmen(every employee other than a workman employed in a managerial or an executive position) earning up to $2,600 per month.

The above amount is exclusive of overtime payments, bonus payments, annual wage supplements, productivity incentive payments, and any allowance. Workmen (manual or blue-collar workman ) earning up to $4,500 a month will continue to be covered.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

A week is defined as a continuous period of 7 days beginning at midnight on Sunday.  An employee shall not be allowed to work for more than 8 hours per day or 44 hours per week. An employee shall not be allowed to work in excess of 12 hours, including overtime in a day unless an emergency exists.

 

Based on an agreement between the employer and employee, the standard working hours may be modified in the following manner-

      • 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, 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 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 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.

 

Shift Work

An employee who is engaged in regular shift work can work for more than 8 hours per day or 44 hours per week. But, the average number of hours worked by an employee shall not exceed 44 hours per week over any continuous period of 3 weeks. An employee shall not be allowed to work for more than 12 hours in one day unless urgent work has to be performed. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  40.

 

Recording Requirements

An employer shall maintain employment records for employees which shall include the period of employment, payslip, etc. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  95

Overtime

If an employee at the request of the employer works more than 8 hours in one day/ 44 hours in one week, or 9 hours in special circumstances, the employee shall be paid for such extra work at the rate of not less than 1.5 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.

 

An employee engaged in shift work who works for more than 44 hours on average over a period of 3 continuous weeks shall be compensated at the rate of 1.5 times his/her basic hourly rate. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  38.

Breaks

Employees shall not be required to work more than 6 consecutive hours without a break. However, if the nature of the work requires continuous work for up to 8 hours, breaks must be provided for meals. The breaks should be at least 45 minutes long. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  38. 

 

Weekly Rest

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.

 

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

 

In case, where a period of 30 consecutive hours is substituted as a rest day for an employee working in shift, at any time before 6 pm on a Sunday, then such rest shall be considered to have been provided within the week irrespective if the period of 30 hours ends after that week.

Work On Rest Days

For work performed on request of Employee

An employee who works on a rest day at his own request shall be paid for that day  in the below manner:

      • When an employee’s period of work does not exceed half of his normal work hours – the employee is entitled to pay for half a day’s work.
      • When an employee’s period of work is more than half but does not exceed normal work hours – the employee shall be entitled to pay for one day of work.

For Work Performed on request of Employer

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

 

Compensation for Overtime Work performed on a Rest Day

For Work performed on request of Employee

An employee who works at the request of his employer shall be paid in the below manner:

        • If work hours exceed normal working hours – an employee shall be paid basic pay for one day’s work; and
        • 1.5 times the hourly basic rate of pay for each hour which exceeds the normal working hours for one day.

 

For Work performed on Request of Employer

          • The basic rate of pay for 2 days’ work and;
          • 1.5 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 11 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 and to a traveling allowance, if payable to him under the terms of his agreement with his employer, for one day.

 

If a public holiday falls on a half working day (the day on which an employee is required to work 5 hours or less), in such cases employees shall be paid at regular pay for a full working day.

 

For employees not covered under Part IV of the Act (other than regular employees covered by the Act) – The employee shall be paid the gross rate of pay for that day and may be 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.

When a public holiday falls on a day on which the employee is not required to work, such employees shall be either paid for that particular holiday at regular pay, or shall be granted a day off as a substitution for that holiday. If any public holiday falls on a rest day, the working day next following that rest day shall be a paid holiday.

 

In case, there are 2 public holidays in a year, the government authority can declare any day in that particular year to be observed as an additional 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  and The Schedule to the Act.

Annual Leave

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.

Annual leave is pro-rated using this formula: (Number of completed months of service ÷ 12 months) × Number of days of annual leave entitlement.

 

Note – If the fraction of a day is less than one-half, round it down and if it is half or more, round it up to one day.

 

An employee who has been granted unpaid leave by the employer at his/her request, in such cases, the leave shall not be included for the purposes of computing the period of continuous service with the employer with respect to annual leave.

 

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. 

 

Termination of Employment 

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, §  88A.

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 of 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.

 

Adoptive fathers of children under 12 months old are entitled to two weeks of 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. 

 

Pay – Adoption leave must be concluded prior to the child’s first birthday. The paid benefit is capped at S$10,000 per month. The first 4 weeks of the leave period are paid by the employer; the remaining 8 weeks are paid by the government. Employers are entitled to claim reimbursement from the government. Reimbursement is subject to a maximum of $20,000 for the first and second children, and $30,000 for the third and subsequent children. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Chapter 38A, § 12B.

Child Care & Extended Child Care Leave

An employee who has been employed with an employer for a period of not less than 3 months and has a child below the age of 7 years 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.

Extended Child Care Leave – 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, the employee shall be entitled to 2 days of extended childcare leave for that relevant period.

The childcare and extended childcare leave shall be in addition to the rest day, holiday, annual leave to which the employee is entitled under the Employment Act. 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.

    Pay – 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. The first 3 days of leave will be paid by the employer and the remaining 3 days will be paid by the Government. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Chapter 38A, § 12B

    Maternity Leave

    A female employee is entitled to 16 weeks of paid leave if she has been employed for at least 3 months with the employer and the child is or will be a Singapore citizen. In case, the child is not a Singapore citizen, female employees will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave, with the exception that if the child becomes a Singapore citizen within 12 months of the birth, she will become entitled to the remaining maternity leave from the 16 weeks timeframe.

     

    Pay – Female employees shall be entitled to gross wages at a regular rate from their employer for the entire leave. The employers can however claim for the last 8 weeks from the government authority in case of the first and second birth. In the case of third and subsequent births, the employers can claim the entire 16 weeks of payment from the government authority. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, § §  76-81.

    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 3 months are entitled to 2 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 2 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).

    Shared parental leave – Working fathers are also entitled to share 4 weeks of their wife’s 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave. The wife can allocate leave in blocks of a full week. The leave can be taken within a period of 12 months after the birth of the child. Child Development Co Savings Act, § 12F – 12G

    Sick Leave

    An employee who has served an employer for a period of not less than 6 months shall be entitled to paid sick leave of 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 who has served an employer for a period of at least 3 months of service but less than 6 months is entitled to paid 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 who has served an employer for a period of 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 who has served an employer for a period of at least 5 months of service but less than 6 months of service is entitled to 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.

     

    If an employee is certified by a medical practitioner appointed by the employer or a medical officer to be ill enough to need to be hospitalized but is not hospitalized for any reason whatsoever, the employee shall be deemed to be hospitalized for the purposes of this leave. The employer shall pay the employee for every day of such sick leave — 

        • Where no hospitalization is necessary, at the gross rate of pay excluding any allowance payable in respect of shift work; and
        • Where hospitalization is necessary, at the gross rate of pay. 

    No employee shall be entitled to paid sick leave on a rest day or on a holiday or on any day of paid annual leave or on a day when he is not required to work under his contract of service or on a day when he is on leave of absence without pay granted by the employer at his request.

    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. Employees 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, childcare leave to which an employee is entitled under the legislation. Child Development Co-Savings Act, Ch. 38A, § 12D.

    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 with the same employer for at least 6 months prior to the date on which the employee was to report for active national service for the Singapore Armed Forces, including the Police Force.

    An employee shall be entitled to claim reimbursement of an amount by which his/her remuneration is reduced as a result of being required to perform such service, less any service remuneration to which he is entitled in respect of that service. Enlistment Act, 1970  § 20. 

    Last updated on: June 29th, 2021