Last updated on: October 26th, 2022

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, and employment relationships. The other acts that govern employment relationships are Child Development Co-Savings Act and the Holidays Act.

 

The  Employment Act, of 1968 covers all employees working under a contract of service with an employer. An employee can be employed full-time, part-time, temporary, or under contract. However, the act does not apply to employees employed as seafarers, domestic employees or statutory board employees, or civil servant

 

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:

      • Employees earn up to S$4,500 per month.
      • An employee who is not a workman, but who is covered by the Employment Act and earns a monthly basic salary of not more than $2,600.

The above amount is exclusive of overtime payments, bonus payments, annual wage supplements, productivity incentive payments, and any allowance. Workmen (manual or blue-collar workmen) 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 exceed work of more than 8 hours per day or 44 hours per week. An employee shall not exceed work of more than 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-

      • An employee who is engaged in work that 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 or she must have the opportunity to have a meal;
      • 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 under their contract of service in regular shift work or who has otherwise consented in writing to work in shift may be required to work more than 6 consecutive hours, more than 8 hours in any one day, or more than 44 hours in any one week, but the average number of hours worked over any continuous period of 3 weeks must not exceed 44 hours per week.

 

No consent given by an employee for shift work is valid unless the working hour concept has been explained to the employee and the employee has been informed of the times at which the hours of work begin and end, the number of working days in each week, and the weekly rest day.

 

An employee shall not be allowed to work for more than 12 hours in one day unless urgent work has to be performed.

 

The overtime law does not apply to any employee who does shift work in general, but any such employee who at the request of their employer works more than an average of 44 hours per week over any continuous period of 3 weeks shall be entitled to overtime pay at 1.5 times the basic hourly rate of pay. 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 or 44 hours in one week it shall be considered overtime work. If in case of special circumstances based on an agreement between employer and employee if the duration of work exceeds 9 hours per day or more than 48 hours in any one week or more than 88  hours in any continuous period of 2 weeks, such hours shall be considered overtime work.

 

An employee shall not be permitted to work overtime for more than 72 hours a month.

 

Exception : In the event of an accident, an emergency involving life, defence, or security, or an urgent need for machine work, an employer may require an employee to work more than the prescribed number of hours and on a designated rest day.

 

Except in the circumstances described above, an employee must not under any circumstances work for more than 12 hours on any one day. 

 

Pay- An employee who works overtime shall be entitled to a premium of 1.5 times their hourly basic rate of pay.

 

An employee engaged in shift work who works for more than 44 hours on average over a period of 3 continuous weeks shall be entitled to a premium of 1.5 times their hourly basic rate of pay. Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  38.

Breaks

Employees shall not be required to work more than 6 consecutive hours without a unpaid 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

A rest day is a 24-hour period from midnight to midnight. Employees shall be entitled each week to a rest day without pay. An employee can get 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 their own request shall be paid for that day  in the following 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 regular 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  their own request shall be paid in the below manner:

If work hours exceed normal working hours – an employee shall be entitled to a premium of 1.5 times the hourly basic rate of pay for each hour that exceeds the normal working hours along with the basic pay for one day’s work.

 

For Work performed on Request of Employer

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

          • An employee shall be entitled to pay for 2 days of work at the basic rate of their salary and;
          • also shall be entitled to a premium of 1.5 times their hourly basic rate of pay for each hour or part thereof that the period of work exceeds their normal hours of work for one day.

Employment Act, Chapter 91, 1968, §  37.

Public Holidays

Employees are entitled to 11 paid public holidays under the Holidays Act if they are covered by the Employment Act. Employers are required to provide paid public holidays to their employees accordingly. The list of holidays are as follows: –

      • 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

Employees are entitled to receive the gross rate of pay on a public holiday, if:

        • they were not absent on a working day immediately before or after a holiday without consent or a reasonable excuse.
        • they are on authorized leave (e.g. sick leave, annual leave, unpaid leave) on the day immediately before or after a holiday

Employees are not entitled to holiday pay if the holiday falls on their approved unpaid leave. For example, if they are on approved unpaid leave from 8 to 10 August, they will not be eligible for a paid public holiday on 9 August.

 

In any year 2 public holidays fall on the same day, the government via notification in the gazette can declare any day in that year to be observed as an additional public holiday.

 

Public Holiday falling on Rest Day or Non-Working Day

If a public holiday falls on a non-working day, employees are entitled to another day off or one extra day’s salary in lieu of the public holiday at the gross rate of payIf a public holiday falls on the rest day of the employees or on Sunday, the following working day will be a paid public holiday.

 

If an employee is not covered by the Employment Act, it will be according to the terms of their employment contract.

 

Employees work on Public Holiday – If an employee is required to work on a public holiday they shall be entitled to receive an extra day’s salary at the basic rate in addition to the gross rate of pay for that day and to a traveling allowance, if payable to them under the terms of their agreement with their employer, for one 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.

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, entitled to:

      • 7 working days of paid annual leave, for the first 12 months of continuous service with the same employer;
      • One additional working day of paid annual leave, for every subsequent 12 months of continuous service  with the same employer;
      • a maximum of 14 working 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 accruing the annual leave, then the employer shall pay the employee at the gross rate of their salary for the balanced leaves. 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.

 

According to amendment 2022, working fathers and adoptive mothers to receive a cash benefit in lieu of the Government-paid portion of paternity leave or adoption leave as they have worked at least 90 days in the 12 months as an employee or self-employed person, or both, for immediately preceding the child’s date of birth or the eligibility date to adopt a child.

 

The total cash pay-out will be calculated based on the average income earned in the same 12-month period. Therefore, parents who work for longer periods will receive a higher benefit.

 

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 working days, if he serves his employer for a period of fewer than 5 months during that relevant period;
      • 3 working 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 working 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 working 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 working 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 working days of extended childcare leave for that relevant period.

 

The childcare and extended childcare leave shall be in addition to the rest day, holiday, and annual leave to which the employee is entitled under the Employment Act. An employee shall not be entitled to:

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

     

    A female employee who worked any day in their employment during the benefit period prior to giving birth is eligible to receive compensation equal to a day’s wage at the gross rate of pay or a day off after the benefit period in addition to the benefit she receives for maternity leave. A female employee is not entitled to any payment for any childbirth if, at the time of the childbirth;

        • the female employee has 2 or more living children and
        • those children were born during more than one previous childbirth

      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.

       

      When is payment made – The payment must be made in 2 installments for a female employee who is paid on a daily basis. The 1st installment is for the time period prior to and including the day of childbirth and must be made within 7 days of that date. The 2nd installment is for the time period following childbirth and must be made within 7 days of the end of that period. In the case of any other female employee, the payment must be paid at the time as the salary earned or as specified in the employment contract. 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 the child 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 working days per year if no hospitalization is required. If hospitalization is required, sick leave is limited to the lesser of 60 working days or 14 working 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 working days if no hospitalization is required. If hospitalization is required, sick leave is limited to the lesser of 15 working days in each year or the aggregate of 5 working 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 working days if not hospitalized. If hospitalization is required the lesser of 30 working days in each year or the aggregate of 8 working 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 working days of paid sick leave if no hospitalization is required. If Hospitalization is needed the lesser of 45 working days in each year or the aggregate of 11 working 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 the employee is not required to work under the contract of service or on a day when the employee is on leave of absence without pay granted by the employer at their request. Also, an employee is not entitled to paid sick leave for the period during which they are receiving or are entitled to receive compensation for their temporary incapacity.

      Unpaid Infant Care Leave

      Working parents who have been employed continuously for at least 3 months, and who have a child under the age of two years of age are entitled to 6 working days of unpaid infant care leave a year if the child is a Singapore citizen. Employees shall not be entitled to more than 12 working 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, and 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.