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What are the requirements relating to advertising positions?

Vacancies must be advertised on the jobs bank, which is administered by Workforce Singapore, before an employer can submit an employment pass application (ie, a type of work pass for foreigners) to hire a non-Singaporean national. The listing must:

  • be open to Singaporean citizens;
  • comply with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (eg, it must not be discriminatory regarding job requirements); and
  • run for at least 14 calendar days before the employment pass application is made.

However, there are exemptions to the bank advertising requirement where:

  • the company has fewer than 25 employees;
  • the fixed-monthly salary for the vacant position is S$12,000 or above;
  • the job must be filled by an intra-corporate transferee; or
  • the job is for short-term contingency purposes (ie, less than one month in duration).

Background checks

What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries in relation to the following:

(a) Criminal records?

Employers cannot undertake a criminal record check on employees, but they can require employees to:

  • provide an up-to-date criminal record report from the Register of Criminal Records, which is operated by the Singapore Police Force; or
  • obtain a certificate of clearance from the police.

The latter can only be obtained by Singaporean citizens or overseas nationals who have legally resided in Singapore for at least six continuous months.

Alternatively, employers can ask their employees to sign a self-declaration that they have a clean criminal record. If an individual has no (or only a spent) conviction, he or she can declare that fact. However, if the question concerns whether the individual has ever been convicted of a criminal offence, he or she must answer in the affirmative even if the conviction is spent.

(b) Medical history?

Employers can make undergoing a medical examination to assess whether a prospective employee is fit for the job an employment condition. Foreign workers in specific industries must attend a medical examination within two weeks of their arrival in Singapore. Medical records constitute personal data and must be obtained and handled under the Personal Data Protection Act.

(c) Drug screening?

There is no legislation preventing alcohol and drug testing at work in Singapore. Best practice is for employers to include a requirement in employment contracts that employees be prepared to undergo alcohol and drugs testing if:

  • their jobs carry a health and safety risk to themselves or others; or
  • the employer has reasonable grounds to suspect that an employee is under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs at work.

Most employers tend to use external testing agencies or have test samples sent to the Health Sciences Authority for analysis.

(d) Credit checks?

Employers can obtain credit reports on employees, although in practice this is done only for senior managers, executives or individuals employed in certain regulated roles where they have access to the employer’s assets or deal with financial matters, such as financial investment advisers or insurance agents. Only the Credit Bureau Singapore and the DP Credit Bureau are recognised by the Singapore Monetary Authority as competent to compile credit reports.

(e) Immigration status?

Work permits for foreign employees are generally sponsored by their employers. Therefore, in practice, employers are aware of the immigration status of their employees and their eligibility to work in Singapore. However, it is common for employers to request proof from employees confirming their eligibility to work legally in Singapore and that they inform their employer of any change in their eligibility status. 

(f) Social media?

Employers are free to screen their employees’ internet profiles and social media activity, provided that such material is publicly available. Although material from social media and the Internet constitutes personal data, it is exempt under the Personal Data Protection Act if it is already publicly available.

(g) Other?

Employers are free to conduct additional background checks, including:

  • identity verification;
  • curriculum vitae checks; and
  • reference checks.

However, such checks must be done within the limitations imposed by the Personal Data Protection Act.

Wages and working time


Is there a national minimum wage and, if so, what is it?

There is no minimum wage in Singapore apart from in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors, in which a progressive wage model sets a minimum wage for workers, subject to progression in their level of training and skills.

Are there restrictions on working hours?

In general, the maximum basic working hours are eight hours a day or 44 hours a week (including meal breaks). The upper limit for overtime is 72 hours a week. Employees covered under Part IV of the Employment Act should not be contractually required to work more than eight hours a day or 44 hours a week.  If they work overtime, employees are entitled to claim overtime pay.

The working hours of employees not covered under Part IV are based on the terms and conditions of his or her individual employment contract.

Hours and overtime

What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?

Under Part IV of the Employment Act, employees cannot work for more than six consecutive hours without a break. If the nature of the work requires continuous work for up to eight hours, breaks must be provided for meals. Breaks should last at least 45 minutes.

How should overtime be calculated?

For employees covered under Part IV of the act, overtime pay is calculated at one-and-a-half times the hourly basic rate of pay. The overtime rate payable to non-workers is calculated based on a monthly salary capped at S$2,250 or S$11.80 an hour.

For employees not covered by Part IV of the act, overtime pay will be calculated in accordance with the terms and conditions of their employment contract.

What exemptions are there from overtime?

Employees covered under Part IV of the act have a statutory entitlement to receive overtime pay. The working hours and overtime pay of employees not covered by Part IV are governed only by their individual employment contracts.

Is there a minimum paid holiday entitlement?

Employees who are covered under Part IV of act and have carried out at least three months’ continuous service are entitled to seven days’ annual leave for the first year of service. Thereafter, the minimum annual leave entitlement increases by one day for every year of service (eg, eight days of annual leave for two years’ service, capped at a maximum of 14 days’ annual leave, irrespective of length of service).

For all other employees, leave is governed by the terms and conditions of their employment contracts. It is usual to provide at least 14 days’ paid leave entitlement in addition to statutory and public holidays.

What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?

An employee’s final pay must include:

  • a salary payment covering up until the last day of employment;
  • a salary payment in lieu of notice, if applicable;
  • compensation for accrued but unused annual leave; and
  • any other contractual benefits to which the employee may be entitled.

Record keeping

What payroll and payment records must be maintained?

Employers must keep records of each employee’s:

  • name;
  • address;
  • earnings; and
  • any deductions from earnings.

Employers must issue itemised payslips which contain the following information:

  • the employer’s full name;
  • the employee’s full name;
  • the date of payment (or dates, if the pay slips consolidate multiple payments);
  • details of the employee’s basic salary;
  • the start and end date of the salary period;
  • details of allowances paid for the salary period;
  • additional payments for each salary period (eg, bonuses, rest day pay and public holiday pay);
  • deductions made for each salary period;
  • overtime hours worked;
  • overtime pay;
  • the start and end date of the overtime payment period; and
  • the total net salary paid.

These records must be kept for two years for existing employees and one year following an employee’s departure.

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