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Working Conditions in Singapore

Every expat who accepts a job in Singapore might also be curious about the working conditions in this small country. How many regular work hours are there? Is overtime paid? And is the salary reasonable? Find answers to these and other questions in our article on working conditions in Singapore.

Working conditions in Singapore are strictly regulated by the Employment Act, and contracts are often detailed and strict. As a consequence, workers’ protests and strikes are rather rare. While a lot of aspects of your employment in Singapore might be determined by legal clauses, you can always try to negotiate flexible working hours and other details with your company.

Working Hours

According to the Employment Act which lays out the working conditions in Singapore, an employee is not supposed to work more than eight hours per day. Shift workers should not work more than 12 hours per day. In either case, employees should not work more than 44 hours per week. Many businesses are open Monday through Friday, with Saturday being a half day. However, a five-day work week is gaining popularity as well. Because travel distances are rather short in Singapore, you will have lots of free time to enjoy your stay away from home.


Exceptions can be made for employees to work overtime. However, you are not allowed to work more than 72 hours in overtime per month, all in all. This limit cannot be exceeded unless the Ministry of Manpower has granted an exemption. If your employer agrees to reimburse you for overtime, he or she is obligated to pay an allowance of at least 1.5 times of your hourly basic rate.

Overtime allowances are mandatory for employees with a monthly salary of less than $2,000 and for workers with a monthly salary of less than $4,500. All other categories of employees have to negotiate the type and amount of allowance with their employer and need to refer to their employment contract.


Expats in Singapore benefit from eleven public holidays and eight major festivals throughout the year. They are a testimony of the cultural and religious diversity in the small country. Singapore’s major public and religious holidays include:

In addition, the country celebrates all Malay, Chinese, and Indian festivals. Some companies are closed for the Chinese New Year.

Salary in Singapore

Singapore is well-known for its excellent working conditions, but also for its competitive salaries. In 2008, the average income of a software engineer was S$37,000, while an information technology consultant made S$56,000, and regional sales managers earned S$92,000. However, you should make sure to negotiate your salary well so that it covers your cost of living in Singapore before signing your employment contract. After all, there is no minimum wage in Singapore, and your salary depends on what you and your employer agree upon.

Employees who are covered by the Employment Act and who earn more than S$4,500 per month may be subject to salary deductions. Allowed deductions occur, for instance, for absence from work, for damage or loss of items entrusted to an employee, for the cost of meals or accommodation, and so on. However, these deductions may not exceed 50% of the overall monthly salary.

If you want to learn more about the working conditions in Singapore, visit the Ministry of Manpower and find out about employment practices in the country.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine