Top 5 Things to Know About Singapore Working Hours & Overtime Pay

Singapore is gradually amending laws to overcome the workaholic culture. Having updated its labour laws in April 2019, Singapore raised the salary cap for overtime pay for workers, adding 100,000 employees under this protection. Here are the top 5 most-asked things you need to know to better calculate working hours and overtime pay in Singapore.

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

1. How is overtime pay calculated in Singapore?

Overtime work is classified as all work done 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 complusory in Singapore if an employee is:

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

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, an employer may ask their employees to work more than the maximum 12 hours of work in the following exceptional scenarios:

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

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 days or public holidays is not counted in the 72 hour overtime limit in Singapore.

In Singapore, 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 rest days in Singapore and how are 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 6 pm 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 in Singapore if:

  1. They worked more than an average of 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 is an example provided by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower
This is an example of how overtime hours for shift workers can be calculated. The scenario is based on a 44-hour work week.

WeekActual working hours

Total working hours for continuous 3 weeks

Total OT hours for continuous 3 weeksOT hours already paid in past 2 weeks*OT hours payable for this week*
150To be computed in week 3To be computed in week 3To be computed in week 3
240To be computed in week 3To be computed in week 3To be computed in week 3
34650 + 40 + 46 = 136136 – (44 × 3) = 40 + 0 = 04 – 0 = 4
44240 + 46 + 42 = 128128 – (44 × 3) → 00 + 4 = 40 – 4 → 0
55046 + 42 + 50 = 138138 – (44 × 3) = 64 + 0 = 46 – 4 = 2
64542 + 50 + 45 = 137137 – (44 × 3) = 50 + 2 = 25 – 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?

In Singapore, 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.

Looking to Outsource Your Payroll

Reasons for Changes of Singapore Working Hours and Overtime Pay Regulations

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 in Singapore, employers should clearly communicate their overtime policies and work arrangements, making sure everything complies with the latest legislation updates.

Eliminate the hassle

Hiring in Sinapore can be a complex procedure, both from a legal perspective and from the day-to-day managing and process payroll, there are many unique factors that only a local expert team would like. 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 and payroll outsourcing services provider in Singapore like Links International, you can better focus on revenue-generating work and bringing the best out of your staff.

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