Employment Laws in Singapore
For employment related matters, migrant workers in Singapore are protected by
the Employment Act, and the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. Both Acts
spell out the rights and obligations of employers and employees and the basic
terms and conditions of employment. We have summarized the major provisions
of these laws below. The Ministry of Manpower is the government body that
enforces these Acts and looks into the rights and welfare of migrant workers in
If you have any questions concerning any of the laws, please send you queries to
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
(I) Employment Related Matters
Payment of Salary
1) Does Singapore have a minimum wage?
No. The government does not set a minimum wage. Wages are left to employers,
unions and employees for negotiations.
2) How often should salary be paid?
You should be paid at least once a month. Most migrant workers, especially
those in construction and shipyard sectors are paid twice a month.
All salary, other than payment for over time work must be paid within seven days
after the end of the salary period. Over time work must be paid within 14 days
after the end of the salary period.
If you choose to, you may request your employer to open a bank account so that
he or she may pay all of your salary through this account.
This is the preferred option so that in the event of any salary dispute, it is easier
to prove to the authorities that you have not been paid.
3) Can an employer make deductions to a worker’s salary?
Yes. They are only allowed to deduct a worker’s salary for the following
a) For damage to or loss of goods entrusted to an employee or for loss of
money which an employee is accountable for. These deductions can only
be made on a once off basis and cannot exceed 25% of an employee’s
salary. No deductions shall be made unless the employee is given the
opportunity to explain the cause of the damage or loss.
b) For cost of meals supplied by the employer at the request of the employee
c) For house accommodation and water, and electricity bills
d) For the recovery of loans made out by the employer to the employee.
e) For income tax payment
All other deductions are not allowed.
Hours of Work
1) How many hours is an employee expected to work a week?
Ans: An employee shall not be expected to work more than 8 hours a day or 44
hours a week. All work in excess of the above hours is considered over time
work. All employees are entitled to payment for over time work
2) What is the rate of payment for overtime work?
Ans: The rate of payment should at least one and a half times the employee’s
hourly basic rate of pay. For example, if you are paid $2.50 per hour, you should
be paid 1.5 x 2.50 for every hour of overtime that you work.
3) Is there a limit to the number of hours an employee can work in a day,
Ans: An employee is not allowed by law to work for more than 12 hours in a day.
4) Is there a limit to the amount of overtime work an employee can perform in a
Yes. The employee is only allowed to work up to a limit of 72 hours a month.
5) What is the rate of overtime pay for work done on rest days and public
Ans: It is the same as work done on any other day.
1) How many rest days are employees entitled to?
An employee is entitled to a rest day of one whole day (midnight to midnight)
each week. The rest day shall be on Sunday or any other day as arranged
between the employer and the employee. Many migrant workers in Singapore
work on their rest days. They should be paid more for work done on rest days.
2) What is the payment due to an employee who works on a rest day?
Work done at employer’s request:
a) Work done at employer’s request: 1 day’s salary where the employee
worked up to half the normal daily working hours;
b) 2 days salary where the employee worked for more than half the normal
Work done at employee’s request:
a) ½ day’s salary where the employee worked up to half the normal working
b) 1 day’s salary where the employee worked for more than half the normal
daily working hours.
1) How many public holidays are employees entitled to in a year?
There are 11 public holidays which employees are entitled to under the
Employment Act. These are:
1) New Year’s Day
2) Chinese New Year (2 days)
3) Hari Raya Puasa
4) Hari Raya Haji
5) Good Friday
6) Labour Day
7) Vesak Day
8) National Day
10) Christmas day
2) Are holidays paid?
Yes. An employer has to pay you even if you do not work during the holidays
3) Is an employee entitled to another day off if a public holiday falls on a rest day
Yes, if the holiday falls on a rest day, the next working day shall be a paid
3) Can an employer request an employee to work on a public holiday?
Yes he may. The employee who works on a public holiday shall be paid twice his
basic rate of pay.
1) What is an employee’s annual leave entitlement?
An employee who has worked for at least 3 months is entitled to annual leave as
Year of service Days of annual leave
First year 7 days
Second year 8 days
Third year 9 days
Fourth year 10 days
Fifth year 11 days
Sixth year 12 days
Seventh year 13 days
Eighth year and thereafter 14 days
2) Is an employee entitled to pro-rated annual leave?
Yes. S/he is entitled to annual leave in proportion to the number of completed
months of service in that year, provided s/he has been working for the same
employer for at least 3 months.
1) How many days of paid sick leave is an employee entitled to in a year?
Ans: 14 working days if no hospitalization is necessary. 60 days if the employee
2) When is an employee entitled to paid sick leave?
Ans: Only if s/he has worked for the employer for at least 6 months.
Contract of employment and termination of contract
1) Can the terms and conditions of a contract be less favourable than those in
the Employment Act.
Ans: No. Any term in a contract that is less favourable than the terms in the Act is
considered illegal, null and void. For example, if a worker signs a contract that he
will only be paid once every 2 months, this will not be allowed as the Employment
Act states that he should be paid at least once a month.
2) Can the employer or employee terminate the employment contract? How
much notice should be given?
Ans: Yes, either the employer or employee can terminate a contract of service.
The party who intends to terminate the contract has to give notice. The notice
period depends on what is agreed upon in the contract. If no such agreement
exists, the following shall apply under the law:
Length of employment Notice period
Less than 26 weeks 1 day
26 weeks to less than 2 years 1 week
2 years to less than 5 years 2 weeks
5 years and above 4 weeks
* Such notice should be given in writing
3) Can either party terminate an employment contract without giving any notice?
Ans: Yes. S/he may do so by paying to the other party a sum equal to the
amount of salary which would have been earned by the employee during the
required period of notice. E.g. if a worker has worked for one month and he
wishes to resign immediately without giving notice, he needs to pay his employer
1 day of his basic salary. Similarly, an employer has to do the same.
4) When is a contract deemed to be broken?
By employer---Failure to pay salary within 7 days after salary is due
By employee---Absence from work for more than 2 days continuously without
approval or good excuse and without informing or attempting to inform the
employer of the excuse for such absence.
5) If I have a salary claim or would like to make a complaint on any matters
arising from the Employment Act, what should I do?
Ans: All complaints should be made to the Labour Relations Department at the
Ministry of Manpower. Do note these 2 things when making a complaint:
a) All complaints should be made within 6 months of the termination of your
employment. For example, if you stopped work on June 1st 2007, you should make
your complaint, latest by December 1st 2007.
b) You can only make claims from matters arising within one year from the date
you lodge your claim at the Ministry of Manpower. For example, if you lodge your
complaint on June 1st 2007, you can only claim for salary and other matters from
June 1st 2006 till June 1st 2007.
6) What is the process of making a claim for employment act matters like?
Ans: An officer from MOM will arrange for mediation meetings between you and
your employer after they have received your complaint. If the mediations do not
work out, your case will be referred to Labour Court. Labour court decisions are
Qn: My employer says that I have to pay for my own air ticket home to
Bangladesh. Is that correct?
No. Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, your employer is
responsible for buying your air ticket to return to Bangladesh when your
employment has terminated and your work permit has been cancelled. Under no
circumstances are you supposed to pay for your own air ticket home when your
work permit is cancelled.
Qn: My work permit card states that I am a construction worker. Am I allowed to
work as a cleaner or in a factory?
Ans: You are only allowed to work in the industry/sector stated in your work
permit card. For example, if your work permit card states that you are a shipyard
worker, you can only work in a shipyard and not work as a factory worker. If your
employer asks you to work in another sector, your employer is guilty of an
offence which is punishable by law.
Qn: Am I allowed to work for more than one employer?
No. You are only allowed to work for the company stated in your work permit
card. However, if you are in the construction industry, your employer is allowed to
ask you to work for another company with your permission, provided it is a
company in the construction sector as well.
Change of Employer
Qn: I am not happy with my current employer and would like to request a change
of employer. Am I allowed to do that?
No. The law in Singapore does not allow you to request for a change of
employer. If you wish to do so, you need to resign from your company, and return
to Bangladesh first, before coming back to Singapore to work again.
(II) Welfare Matters
Your employer is responsible for the payment of your medical bills. He or she has
to buy medical insurance with coverage of at least S$5000 per year for each year
you work in Singapore. The medical insurance covers your bills for
hospitalization and surgery. It does not include outpatient treatment (e.g for minor
illnesses such as flu, cough etc)
However, under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, your employer is
responsible for the payment of all of your medical bills. For medical expenses not
covered by the medical insurance mentioned above, your employer is still legally
obliged to pay for your medical expenses.
Your employer also has to buy an accident insurance in the event that you are
involved in an accident. The insurance will cover your medical expenses and will
compensate you for any disabilities suffered. It is your right to claim for this
before you return home to Bangladesh.
Who is responsible for my accommodation in Singapore?
Your employer is responsible for finding a proper place for you to sleep. If you
are living in conditions that are unhygienic, crammed or unsafe, you can make a
report to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
(III) Work Injuries
Qn: What are my legal rights should I get injured in the work place?
Ans: Under the Work Injury Compensation Act, your employer is legally obliged
to purchase an accident insurance for you. This is to provide basic benefits to
workers should they be injured at the work place. It is a punishable offence if
work accident insurance is not purchased for you.
When an accident takes place (such as falling from a height, or if you are hit by a
heavy object) your employer has to report the accident to the Ministry of
Manpower (MOM). Failure to do so is an offence
You will be entitled to claim compensation if your injury is work related and it
results in some form of disability (e.g you cannot bend your fingers completely)
In addition, your employer is responsible for the following:
a) All outpatient medical expenses (including medical consultation fees and
b) Up to S$5000 hospitalisation costs (e.g operation, surgery etc)
c) Medical leave wages for the period in which you were incapacitated
(i.e.unable to work)
*** Your employer has to settle ALL outstanding claims with you before
sending you back to Bangladesh. If he or she does not do so, it is your
right to remain in Singapore and lodge your claim to the Singapore Ministry
of Manpower (MOM).
For more enquiries about your employment and legal rights when you get to
Singapore contact us at:
Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME):
Tel: 6341 5535
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