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Hours of Work, Overtime & Rest Days

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Part IV of the Employment Act & Section 33 applies only to:

Definition of terms

  • A “week” refers to a continuous period of seven days commencing on Monday and ending on Sunday.
  • An employee's “hours of work” is the period during which the employee is expected to carry out the duties assigned by his/her employer. It does not include any intervals allowed for rest, tea breaks and meals.

Maximum working hours

An employee is not allowed to work for more than 12 hours within a day except in the following circumstances:

  1. Accident or threat of accident;
  2. Work that is essential to:
    1. the life of the community;
    2. national defence; or
    3. security;
  3. Urgent work to be done to machinery or plant; or
  4. An interruption of work which was impossible to foresee.

An employee can be required to work up to 12 hours a day if the employee gives his consent in writing, after the provisions of Sections 38 and 40 of the Employment Act have been clearly explained to him. He must be informed of the daily working hours, the number of working days in each week and the weekly rest day.

Employers that require their employees to work more than 12 hours (maximum 14 hours) a day are required under section 40 of the Employment Act, to apply for overtime exemption from the Ministry of Manpower. (Download the pdfapplication form for overtime exemption for work more than 12 hours a day)

Break time

An employee is generally not required to work more than six consecutive hours without a break. However, if the nature of work is such that it must be carried on continuously, an employee may be required to work eight hours continuously. In such an instance, a break or breaks must be given so that the employee can have his/her meal(s).

The duration of the break(s) should be no less than 45 minutes.

Contractual hours of work

An employee covered by Part IV of the Employment Act is not required under his/her contract of service to work more than eight hours in a day or 44 hours in a week.

  • The limit of eight hours per day may be exceeded when an employee is not required to work more than five days a week. However, he/she is not required to work for more than nine hours per day or 44 hours in a week.
  • If the number of hours worked is less than 44 hours every alternate week, the limit of 44 hours a week may be exceeded in the other week. However, this must be stated in the contract of service and is subject to a maximum of 48 hours in one week or 88 hours in any continuous two week period.

A shift worker is allowed to work up to 12 hours a day, provided that the average working hours each week do not exceed 44 over a continuous three week period.

If the employee's rest day falls on a day other than a Sunday, the employer is required to prepare a monthly roster and inform him of his rest days for the month at the beginning of each month.

Overtime allowance

Overtime allowance is payable if the employee is required by the employer to work above the limit of working hours specified above.

All work in excess of the normal hours of work (excluding break time) is considered as overtime work. An employee must be paid no less than 1.5 times his/her hourly basic rate of pay for overtime. Payment for overtime work must be made within 14 days after the last day of the salary period.

For a monthly-rated employee. His hourly basic rate of pay is computed as follows:

12 x Monthly Basic Rate of Pay
-------------------------------------------
52 x 44

Note: The hourly basic rate of pay for non-workmen employees earning more than a basic monthly salary of $2,250 is computed as follows:

12 x $2,250
-------------------------------------------
52 x 44

For a daily-rated employee, his hourly basic rate of pay is computed as follows:

Daily Pay at the Basic Rate
-------------------------------------------
Working Hours Per Day

For a piece-rated employee, his hourly basic rate of pay is computed as follows:

Total Weekly Pay at the Basic Rate of Pay
-------------------------------------------
Total Number of Hours Worked in the Week

Based on the hourly basic rate of pay, the overtime pay for the 3 categories of employees is to be calculated as follows:

Hourly basic rate of pay x 1.5 x Number of hours of overtime worked

Under Part IV of the Employment Act, it is mandatory to make overtime payment to an employee if his basic salary is $2,500 or less a month, or to a workman if his basic salary is $4,500 or less a month. Generally, a workman is an employee whose work involves manual labour. Some examples of workman are lorry drivers, construction workers, kitchen helpers, machine operators. The minimum rate for overtime pay is 1.5 times the hourly rate of pay. For other categories of employees, overtime pay will depend on the terms stated in their employment contract.

Maximum hours of overtime

An employee is permitted to work up to a limit of 72 hours of overtime in a month. However, this limit may be exceeded if the Ministry of Manpower has granted an exemption under section 38 of the Employment Act.

Employers that require their employees to work more than 72 hours of overtime in a month are required under section 38 of the Employment Act, to apply for overtime exemption from the Ministry of Manpower. (Download the pdfapplication form for overtime exemption for work more than 72 hours of overtime in a month).

For work done on rest days or public holidays it is not included in the 72 hours' limit for overtime. However, if an employee works beyond his normal daily working hours on his rest day or public holiday, the extra hours of work done would be included in the 72 hours' limit for overtime work.

The rate of payment for an employee who works overtime on his rest day and public holiday should be paid at not less than one and a half times his hourly basic rate of pay for the overtime work (as in the case of overtime work on any other day), in addition to his rest day or public holiday pay.

Rest days

An employee covered by Part IV of the Employment Act is entitled to a rest day comprising one whole day (midnight to midnight) every week.

The rest day can be on a Sunday or any other day. The employer should determine the rest day and inform the employee before the beginning of each month. It is not a paid day.

Employer cannot compel employees to work on rest day unless under very exceptional circumstances.

The longest allowable interval between two rest days is 12 days. This can occur where in one week, the rest day is given on Monday, which is at the beginning of the working week. In the following week, the rest day is on Sunday, which is at the end of next working week. This will enable an employee to take two rest days at a stretch and allow an employer greater flexibility in the rostering of rest days.

For a shift worker, the rest day can be a continuous period of 30 hours. A 30-hour rest period that commences before 6pm on a Sunday will be considered as one rest day within the week, even though the 30-hour period will extend into the next week, i.e. on Monday.

Payment for work done on a rest day

Payment for work done on a rest day should be calculated as such:

  1. Work done at employer's request:
    • One day's salary when the employee works up to half the normal daily working hours; or
    • Two days' salary when the employee works more than half the normal daily working hours.
  2. Work done at employee's request:
    • Half day's salary when the employee works up to half the normal daily working hours; or
    • One day's salary when the employee works more than half the normal daily working hours.

If an employee works beyond the normal daily working hours on a rest day, he/she should be paid at least 1.5 times the hourly basic rate of pay.

Last updated on 17 November 2014 10:27:15