Top 5 Questions on Singapore Working Hours & Overtime Pay

Singapore is gradually amending laws to overcome the workaholic culture. Recently updating it’s labour laws, Singapore raised the salary cap for overtime pay for workers, adding 100,000 employees under this protection.

To help you better calculate for working hours and pay, here’s the top 5 questions on Singapore working hours and overtime pay. 

For more in-depth information of the legislation, please visit the Singapore Ministry of Manpower website.

1. How is overtime pay calculated in Singapore?

Overtime work is classified by all work in excess of the normal hours of work (excluding breaks). Only when the overtime work is approved by the employers will the overtime pay apply.

Overtime pay is compulsory if an employee is:

  • A non-workman, with a salary level of $2,600 SGD, or an hourly rate of $13.60 SGD
  • A workman, earning up to $4,500 SGD. 

According to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower, an employee must be paid at least 1.5 times (their hourly basic rate of pay) for their overtime work. Overtime payments must also be made within 14 days after the last day of the salary period.

Overtime pay in Singapore is calculated as such:
(Hourly Basic Rate of Pay x 1.5) x Overtime Working Hours

 

2. What is the maximum hours of work and overtime?

Under normal circumstances, employees should work no longer than 12 hours a day. 

However, under the following circumstances, an employer may ask their employees to work more than the maximum 12 hours of work:

  • An accident or threat of accident
  • Work that is essential to the life of the community, national defense or security
  • Urgent work regarding machinery or plant
  • An unforeseeable interruption of work

Under these scenarios, employers must apply for overtime exemption and cannot require the employee to work more than a maximum of 14 hours.

The total number of overtime hours an employee is allowed to work is 72 hours a month. Employers will need to apply for an exemption if they require employees to work more than 72 hours of overtime in a month.

Unless work is done beyond the usual daily working hours, otherwise, work on rest day or public holidays is not counted in the 72 hour overtime limit.

Overtime on a rest day or public holiday is calculated as such:
(Overtime pay) + (Rest day or public holiday pay)

3. What are the regulations on Singapore rest day and how they counted?

Employers are required to provide employees with 1 rest day (a whole day)  per week.

For shift workers, a rest day can be counted as a continuous period of 30 hours. Even if it extends into the Monday of the following week, the 30-hour rest period starting before 6pm on a Sunday is considered as 1 rest day within the week.

Employers are not allowed to compel their employees to work on a rest day apart from exceptional circumstances.

4. How should I calculate overtime hours for shift workers? [With example]

Overtime pay for shift workers is required if:

  1. They worked more than 44 hours over three weeks
  2. Or, they worked more than the contractual working hours per week (this can be less than the 44 hours per week over three weeks).

Below example is provided by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower
This is an example on how overtime hours for shift workers can be calculated. The scenario is based on a 44-hours work week.

Week

Actual working hours

Total working hours for continuous 3 weeks

Total OT hours for continuous 3 weeks

OT hours already paid in past 2 weeks*

OT hours payable for this week*

1

50

To be computed in week 3

To be computed in week 3

To be computed in week 3

-

2

40

To be computed in week 3

To be computed in week 3

To be computed in week 3

-

3

46

50 + 40 + 46 = 136

136 - (44 × 3) = 4

0 + 0 = 0

4 - 0 = 4

4

42

40 + 46 + 42 = 128

128 - (44 × 3) → 0

0 + 4 = 4

0 - 4 → 0

5

50

46 + 42 + 50 = 138

138 - (44 × 3) = 6

4 + 0 = 4

6 - 4 = 2

6

45

42 + 50 + 45 = 137

137 - (44 × 3) = 5

0 + 2 = 2

5 - 2 = 3

* Overtime hours incurred from previous weeks are deducted to prevent double-counting.


5. Can an employer give time off instead of overtime pay?

Employers cannot substitute overtime pay with time off for employees covered under Part IV of the Employment Act. For these employees, overtime must be paid at a rate of at least 1.5 times the hourly basic rate of pay.

For those not covered under Part IV of the Employment Act, the entitlement would depend on the employment contract.

All information above is according to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower.

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A better planning of manpower
Overall, Singapore with these amendments in overtime pay is part of a bigger movement towards better work-life balance, overturning the workaholic culture present in the  area. Overtime pay is not only to ensure proper compensation of employees but also a measure to encourage better scheduling of working hours.

Communication is key
To avoid disputes on overtime pay, employers should clearly communicate their overtime policies and work arrangements, making sure everything complies with the latest legislation updates.

Eliminate the hassle
Administrative tasks like payroll calculation, distribution, CPF contribution, employer tax liability and other related paperwork can be a hassle. By outsourcing trivial HR work to a trusted HR outsourcing partner like Links International, you can better focus on revenue-generating work and bringing the best out of your staff.


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Links International is an award-winning industry leader in innovative human resources outsourcing in Asia. Links was established in 1999 and has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Zhuhai, Macau, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Australia.

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