In Singapore, there are rights and privileges that apply to employees and this includes both locals and foreigners. Some Singaporeans are employed in full-time jobs, others are in part-time jobs, and still others are employed as interns. In certain situations, some employees are totally ignorant about the terms and conditions laid down in the Employment Act.
In Singapore, there are some categories of employees that are not entitled to some of the rights stipulated in the Employment Act. These are managers, executives, professionals, domestic workers, some government staff and seamen. All other employees are entitled to the rights laid down in the Employment Act, regardless of whether they are interns, full-time employees, or part-time employees. Many Singaporeans have suffered untold abuse at the hands of their employers simply because they are unaware about the provisions in the law.
Here are 4 common employment rights in Singapore
1. CPF Scheme
The CPF Scheme is a fund that was set up to benefit citizens and permanent residents in Singapore. It was designed to help them accumulate funds which can be used during their retirement years.
According to the CPF Act, those who are eligible to have their CPF contributions paid are full-time employees, part-time employees and students who are working as interns outside their school system. The employer is obligated to remit CPF contributions on behalf of the employee if he or she is earning above S$50 per month.
For an employee earning above S$500 per month, the employer will deduct his or her share of the CPF contribution. The contribution is to be paid by the 14th of every month. The rate of CPF contribution is a maximum of 16% for employers and 20% for employees. School or college students who decide to work over the school holidays are not entitled to CPF contributions.
According to the Employment Act, a full-time employee should work for a maximum of 44 hours per week. This translates to approximately 9 hours per day for 5 days or 8 hours per day for more than 5 days. Any extra hours worked above this is considered to be overtime.
In the case of a part-time employee, the accepted hours of work is 8 hours per day, any extra hours above this is considered to be overtime. According to the Act, overtime is paid at one and a half times the normal hourly rate. The categories of employees that are eligible for overtime payment in Singapore are given here below.
- Workmen who earn a maximum basic monthly salary of S$4,500 per month. Workmen include artisans, apprentices, those who operate vehicles for ferrying passengers, supervisors of manual workers and others who do similar work. However, it should be noted that domestic workers are excluded from this group.
- Employees who are not classified as workmen and earn a maximum basic monthly pay of S$2,600. This group of employees excludes managers, professionals and executives such as human resource managers.
According to the Employment Act, no employee should work for over 12 hours per day. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The following are special circumstances where an employer can request the employees to work for over 12 hours
- Urgent machinery work needs to be done.
- There is an unexpected interruption in the normal work.
- Security or life is at risk if the work is not done.
- An accident has occurred or is likely to occur.
An employer can apply for an exemption from overtime payment in such cases. However, there are some cases where exemption is not granted. These cases are mentioned below.
- Work involving continuous machine operation, welding, soldering, woodwork and other similar activities.
- Work needing intense mental focus. Examples are crane operating, excavating, forklifting and dredging.
- Work done by expectant mothers and youth.
- Work done in an environment where air is compressed.
- Work done needing extra physical exertion for many hours. Examples are drilling, grinding and cutting.
An employee is also entitled to one full day of rest. For those who work on shift, the rest day can be up to 30 hours. The overtime paid if an employee works on rest day is determined by the circumstances. If the employer requests that the employee works, then the overtime pay will be one day’s salary if he or she works half day. If the employee works full day on the rest day, then the employer will pay two days’ salary in overtime.
3. Employment Contract
It is a requirement for employees to be given an employment contract. This is designed to protect both the employee and the employer. It is important that the employee reads through the contract carefully before signing it.
Smaller companies tend to have contracts written by laymen therefore, they may omit many crucial details. The contract must include details pertaining to termination and period of notice. According to the Ministry of Manpower, an employer should give the employee a contract that includes all key employment terms.
- The employer’s name.
- The employee’s name.
- The title of the job, including the job description and duties.
- The date of employment.
- The duration of employment.
- The daily working hours.
- The working days per week.
- The rate of pay and total basic salary.
- Any allowances and regular deductions.
- The rate of overtime pay as well as incentives and bonuses.
- Details about leave days, including annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave.
- Any insurance and medical benefits.
- The probation period and notice of termination.
An employer must issue a contract to the employee within 14 days of employment.
4. Leave days
Employees who earn below S$2,000 per month qualify for annual leave if employed for over 3 months. The length of leave depends on the contract however, the law states that an employee is entitled to 7 days in the first year of employment and an extra day per year for every other year of employment.
An employee who has worked for an employer for over 6 months is entitled to 14 days of sick leave every year as well as 60 days of hospitalization. The 60 days includes the 14 days.
An employee who has worked for 5 months is entitled to 11 sick leave days and 45 days of hospitalization. For an employee who has worked for 4 months, the entitlement is 8 sick leave days and 30 days of hospitalization. Those who have worked for 3 months have a right to 5 days sick leave and 15 days of hospitalization. All the hospitalization days include the sick leave days.
Female employees who have been employed for over 3 months are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. Employers are not allowed to terminate the contract of a female employee who is on maternity leave.
If a case arises where a Singaporean is being overworked, he or she should consider the following solutions.
- If there is a contract, the employee could choose to seek legal redress through a civil court.
- In a case where there is no contract, the employee could try to reach an amicable agreement with the employer on reasonable working hours.
In conclusion, all employees in Singapore should be careful to get comprehensive information on employment rights before signing any employment contract.