The normal working hours in Singapore are Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, although some companies also work a half day on Saturdays. The majority of workers in Singapore are covered by the Employment Act, which sets a maximum number of contractual working hours of nine hours per day or 44 hours per week. Overtime is permitted but must be paid, and every employee is entitled to at least one day of complete rest each week.
In Singapore, statutory holiday entitlement is linked to length of service. Under the Employment Act, employees with over three months of service are entitled to annual leave. During your first year, the entitlement will be pro-rated according to a government-defined formula. At one year’s service, your minimum entitlement is seven days of leave, which rises by a day each year up to a maximum of 14 days for eight years of service. Sick leave and maternity leave are also paid, but some other forms of leave such as paternity or adoption leave may only be available to Singaporean citizens, unless covered by your employer.
Public holidays in Singapore reflect the country’s ethnic makeup, with major festivals from several cultures represented in the calendar. All employees who are covered by the Employment Act are entitled to 11 public holidays as paid leave. If an employer asks staff to work on a public holiday, they must either give a day off in lieu or pay an additional day’s wages to the employee or employees concerned.
Public holiday dates
New Years Day January 01
Chinese New Year January 28
Good Friday April 14
Labour Day in Singapore May 01
Vesak Day (Birth of Buddha) May 10
Hari Raya Puasa June 25 - 26
National Day Singapore August 09
Hari Raya Haji (Feast of Sacrifice) September 1
Deepavali October 18
Christmas Day December 25
Visas and eligibility to work
Depending on your nationality, you may need a visa to enter Singapore. For a full list of countries requiring entry visas, consult the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority website. The government in Singapore is keen to monitor the number of foreign workers in the country and operates a system of levies and quotas for their employment. As a result, all foreign nationals working in Singapore must hold a valid Employment Pass appropriate to their circumstances. To find out which pass you should apply for, use the Pass Navigator tool on the Ministry of Manpower website. If you are planning to remain in Singapore for the long term, you may wish to consider applying for permanent residency or citizenship, in which case you will be issued with a National Registration Identity Card.
Singapore has very low income tax rates, with the highest earners paying tax at around 20%. For foreign nationals, the rates paid depend on both earnings and tax status. Your residency status for tax purposes depends on the duration of your stay:
- 60 days or less – you are non-resident for tax purposes and employment income is exempt from tax
- Between 61 and 182 days a year – you are non-resident for tax purposes and will be taxed at the higher of the progressive resident rates or 15%
- 183 days a year or more – you are resident for tax purposes and all your income will be taxed at progressive resident rates, although you may be entitled to claim tax relief
The tax year in Singapore runs from 1st January to 31st December. For more information on tax rates for foreigners, visit the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore website.
Pensions and benefits
Retirement pensions and other social security schemes including healthcare and family benefits are paid for through the Central Provident Fund (CPF). The CPF is funded by a combination of employer and employee contributions. Contributions are mandatory for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. Foreign workers who are employed in the country on an Employment Pass are not required to contribute but are not ordinarily able to access benefits as a result.
Although Singapore has guidelines for respecting the rights of disabled workers under the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, they are not legally binding. However, most companies are more than happy to make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers, so speak to your employer about your individual needs before accepting a position.