Engage In Singapore

Table of Contents

About Singapore

Capital City

Singapore

Population

As of March 2024, the estimated population of Singapore is 6,014,723 people.

Currency

The currency in Singapore is the Singapore dollar (SGD). The currency symbol is S$.

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Overview

Singapore, a vibrant and diverse city-state located in Southeast Asia, is a sunny tropical island off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. With a population of approximately five million people, Singapore is home to four major communities: Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian. Since gaining independence on August 9, 1965, Singapore has transformed into a thriving metropolis known for its world-class infrastructure, dynamic business environment, and rich cultural heritage. The city-state’s strategic position at the southern extremity of the Malay Peninsula has made it the largest port in Southeast Asia and one of the busiest in the world. Singapore’s prosperity is primarily attributed to its dominance over the Strait of Malacca, a crucial maritime route connecting the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. With its fully integrated transport network, ease of living, and efficient governance system, Singapore has garnered international accolades, affirming its status as a vibrant and world-class destination. Whether it’s the fusion of different cultures, the pursuit of cutting-edge innovation, or the facilitation of business opportunities, Singapore has established itself as the place where worlds meet.

Employment Relationship

Permanent Employment

Singapore's labor law defines permanent employment as regular and continual employment that lasts for more than 14 days. Permanent employment is generally reserved for employees directly engaged in work on behalf of a company or organization. Permanent employment contracts must include certain essential terms, such as hours of work and the notice period.

Fixed-Term or Specific-Purpose Contracts

The Employment Act of Singapore defines a fixed-term contract as a contract that terminates upon the expiry of a particular term unless it is renewed. Although the law does not specify the maximum term of such employment, all fixed-term contracts of service of 14 days or more will be treated as continuous service for benefits purposes if renewed within 1 month from the end date of the previous contract. The law does not specify limitations regarding the type of work for fixed-term employees. Fixed-term employees are entitled to annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, and child care leave based on the cumulative length of their continuous service if they meet a minimum service period of 3 months without a break in service.

Temporary Employment Contratcs

The Employment Act of Singapore does not provide specific regulations for temporary employees. The Act's provisions cover all employees, whether they are temporary employees, contract employees, employees with tenured employment, or daily-rated employees. There are no legal provisions regarding the length of time or the situations in which temporary employment contracts can be used.

Probationary Period

The Employment Act of Singapore does not contain provisions that regulate the length of probationary periods for employees. Probationary periods are governed by the terms of the employment contract or collective bargaining agreement. However, the existence and length of a probationary period, as well as the notice policy of the employer, are considered key employment terms that must be given to the employee in writing no more than 14 days after the start of employment.  Either employer or employee can terminate the employment at the end of the probation period by giving notice or paying compensation in lieu of. 

Working Hours

Generally, an employee's service contract shall not require them to work more than 6 consecutive hours without a break, more than 8 hours in a day, or more than 44 hours in one week. Some exceptions to this general rule are listed in the paragraphs below. An employee engaged in work that must be carried on continuously can be required to work for 8 consecutive hours. However, the workday must include a period or periods of not less than 45 minutes in total, during which the employee shall have the opportunity to have a meal. Also, if there are fewer than 8 hours of work on 1 or more days of the week, the limit of 8 hours in 1 day may be exceeded during the remaining days of the week. Still, no employee shall be required to work for more than 9 hours in a day or more than 44 hours per week.

Holidays / PTO

Statutory Holidays

New Year’s Day (January 1st); Chinese New Year – first day (Days movable); Chinese New Year – second day (Days movable); Hari Raya Puasa (Days movable); Hari Raya Haji (Days movable); Good Friday (Days movable); Labor Day (May 1st); Vesak Day (Days movable); National Day (August 9th); Deepavali (Days movable); Christmas Day (December 25th)

Paid Annual Leave

According to Singapore's Employment Act, an employee is entitled to paid annual leave if they have worked for at least 3 months with the employer. The Employment Act does not detail any other procedure for requesting annual leave beyond seeking the employer's approval before taking the leave. The length of the annual leave depends on an employee's years of service, starting from the first day of work with the employer. Eligibility for leave is as follows: 7 days the 1st year of service 8 days the 2nd year of service 9 days the 3rd year of service 10 days the 4th year of service 11 days the 5th year of service 12 days the 6th year of service 13 days the 7th year of service 14 days the 8th year and thereafter

Sick Leave

According to Singapore's Employment Act, an employee is entitled to paid sick leave if: The employee has worked at least 3 months for the employer. The employee has informed or tried to notify the employer within 48 hours of their absence. The sick leave has been certified by the company's doctor, a company-approved doctor, or a government doctor (doctors from approved public medical institutions are included). The length of sick leave is calculated based on an employee's length of service. An employee whose length of service is longer than 6 months can take up to 14 days for outpatient non-hospitalization leave and 60 days for hospitalization leave, which includes the 14 days of outpatient sick leave. Sick leave is prorated for employees who have less than 6 months of service.

Maternity Leave

Under the Employment Act, every female employee is entitled to take maternity leave beginning 4 weeks before the expected delivery and for 8 weeks after delivery. This 12-week minimum maternity leave must be paid by the employer and is available to employees who are not covered under the Child Development Co-Savings Act. The Child Development Co-Savings Act grants 16 weeks of partially government-paid maternity leave to employees who meet the following criteria: The child is a Singaporean citizen. The employee is lawfully married to her child's father. The employee has worked for her employer or has been self-employed for at least three continuous months before her child's birth. An employee can take her maternity leave either at once or spread out over 12 months. The employee should reach an agreement with the employer on how her maternity leave is to be split before taking the leave. The employee must take the first 8 weeks in one block and can take the last 8 weeks flexibly. Employees are also eligible for adoption leave if they adopt a child under 12 months of age.

Paternity Leave

According to the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore, a working father is entitled to 2 weeks of paternity leave for all births if he meets the following requirements: The child is a Singaporean citizen. The employee is or had been married to the child's mother between conception and birth. Such conditions are not applicable for adoptive fathers who intend to adopt on or after January 1, 2017. The employee has worked for his employer or has been self-employed for at least three continuous months before the child's birth. Two weeks of paternity leave is based on an employee's number of working days in a week. The government pays the compensation for paternity leave, with wage reimbursement capped at SGD 2,500 (Singapore dollars) per week. From January 1, 2024, employees will be eligible to 4 weeks' paternity leave, to be taken within 12 months from child’s date of birth. The additional 2 weeks of leave are subjected to employer’s agreement. The leave can also be taken as one continuous block within the first 16 weeks from childbirth. The government pays the compensation for paternity leave for all 4 weeks, with wage reimbursement capped at SGD 2,500 per week.  

Termination of Employment

Notice Period

Singapore's labor law requires a contracting party to give notice to the other party in writing to terminate the employment contract. This notice can be in the form of a termination letter or resignation letter. The length of notice must be the date indicated in the contract or the length agreed to in the verbal agreement if no written contract exists. All employees, including those on a fixed-term contract, can resign at any time, as long as they serve the required notice stated in their contract, or make payment in lieu of notice. If no notice period has been agreed to in the contract, the notice should be based on the employee's length of service as follows: Less than 26 weeks: 1 day Between 26 weeks and less than 2 years: 1 week Between 2 years and less than 5 years: 2 weeks Between 5 years and above: 4 weeks Both parties can also agree to waive the notice period by mutual consent. Such a waiver should be concluded in writing.

Severance Benefits

Singapore’s Employment Act does not require employers to pay severance. However, an employer must give all eligible employees notice or payment in lieu of notice and pay all unused annual leave on the last day of work. The Ministry of Manpower requires employers to compensate their employees in case of retrenchment. The amount of retrenchment benefit depends on what is provided for in the employment contract or collective agreement (for unionized companies). If there is no provision, it will have to be negotiated between the employees (or their union) and the employer. The prevailing norm is to pay a retrenchment benefit of between 2 weeks to 1-month salary per year of service, depending on the company’s financial position and the industry.

Social Security

Pension

In Singapore, the retirement age is 65, and the re-employment age is 70. Singapore’s Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a mandatory social security savings scheme, with the sources of funds being from employers and employees. By contributing to the Central Provident Fund, employees can meet their retirement, housing, and healthcare needs. The funding goes into 3 accounts: Ordinary Account (OA) for retirement and housing needs Special Account (SA) for retirement needs Medisave Account (MA) for healthcare needs People can withdraw from the CPF savings at the age of 55. At this time, savings from the Special Account and Ordinary Account will be transferred to the Retirement Account to form the retirement sum. After reaching 65 years old, people will receive monthly payouts from CPF savings. The amount of the monthly pension depends on the Basic Retirement Sum at the age of 55.  Singapore provides the government-funded Silver Support Scheme to support eligible low-income elderly individuals. People are not required to apply for the Silver support; they will be assessed automatically for their eligibility. The payout ranges from SGD 270 to SGD 900 per quarter.

Dependents/Survivors Benefit

The Central Provident Fund of Singapore offers benefits to the named nominees of a deceased employee. Employee's savings in the  Ordinary, Special, MediSave, and Retirement accounts are paid to the nominees as a lump sum. Under the Work Injury Compensation Act of Singapore, the family or dependents of an employee can claim a lump sum when a work injury causes the employee's death. The amount is calculated based on employee's average monthly earnings and age multiplying factor.  The lump-sum varies from SGD 76,000 to SGD 225,000 from January 1, 2020. This benefit is provided by the employer.

Invalidity Benefit

The Central Provident Fund of Singapore offers a severe disability insurance scheme named ElderShield. It provides a monthly cash payout of up to 72 months to people with severe disabilities. No registration or assessment is needed; CPF members with a MediSave Account will automatically enroll the program when they reach 40 years of age. The monthly cash payout for severe disability is SGD 400 (Singapore dollars) for a maximum of 72 months. Employees can also use MediSave savings to pay for personal or immediate family's hospitalization, day surgery, and certain outpatient expenses.  Employees who suffer a temporary or permanent disability due to a work accident or occupational disease are entitled to be compensated under the Work Injury Compensation Act. For temporary disability, a daily allowance is paid for up to one year. For permanent disability, a lump-sum compensation is paid as employee's average monthly earnings multiplied by age factor multiplied by the degree of disability.

Taxation of Compensation and Benefits

Personal Income Tax

According to the law of Singapore, the following individuals are subject to personal income tax in the country: Citizens of Singapore or persons with permanent resident status if they reside in Singapore Foreigners who work in the country: For at least 183 days in a calendar year; or For at least 183 days for a continuous period over two years (applies to persons who have entered Singapore from January 1, 2007, but excludes company directors, public entertainers, or professionals); or For three consecutive years Foreign nationals’ tax obligation depends on their tax residency status. They are tax residents if they have a work pass that is valid for at least 1 year.  The tax year runs from January 1 through December 31. Resident tax rates range from 2% to 24%. A non-resident individual is generally subject to tax at flat rates, depending on the type of income. For employment income, tax is charged at a flat rate of 15% or at the resident rates, whichever is higher. Other income of a non-resident individual is generally taxed at 22% unless specifically exempt or subject to a reduced rate (such as through a tax treaty).

Immigration

Types of Visas

A Singapore entry visa is not an immigration pass. It is a pre-entry permission for the holder of a valid visa to travel to, and seek entry, into Singapore. The grant of an immigration pass will be determined by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority officers at the point of entry. Entry permit categories are as follows: Visas for professionals Visas for skilled and semi-skilled workers Visas for trainees and students Visas for family members Exemptions and passes for employment during a visit

Work Permit

The following categories of work passes may be issued by Singapore Work permit (including a training work permit) – For semi-skilled foreign workers in the construction, manufacturing, marine shipyard, process, or services sector S pass – For mid-level skilled staff who earn at least SGD 3,150 a month and meet the assessment criteria. Employment pass (including a training employment pass) – For foreign professionals, managers, and executives (candidates need to earn at least SGD 5,000 (Singapore dollars) per month and have acceptable qualifications) Personalized employment pass – For high-earning existing Employment Pass holders or overseas foreign professionals (this pass has greater flexibility than an Employment Pass) EntrePass – For eligible foreign entrepreneurs who want to start a business in Singapore Work holiday pass – For full-time students aged 18 to 25 to stay and work in Singapore for 6 months Miscellaneous work pass – For foreigners taking on a short-term work assignment of up to 60 days in Singapore Letter of consent – For eligible LTVP/LTVP+ holders and dependent's pass holders who want to work in Singapore The duration of the employment pass is 2 years for first-time candidates and three years for renewals.

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