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Compensation for Extra Work Hours? It Depends.

The Straits Times (29 November 2007): Compensation for Extra Work Hours? It Depends. 


The Straits Times (26 November 2007): Long Hours the Bane of Contract Workers


Compensation for Extra Work Hours? It Depends. 
- The Straits Times, 29 November 2007

Please refer to the letter by Ms Sharon Lin "Long hours the bane of contract worker" (ST, 26 November).

2.   The Employment Act sets out the basic rights and duties of employers and employees and it applies to both workers who are employed on a permanent basis or on a term contract ("contract worker").

3.   Ms Lin asked about the limits to the working hours and the entitlement to overtime pay. Part IV of the Employment Act, which covers all workmen (manual workers), and employees earning a basic monthly salary of $1,600 or less, stipulates that an employer may engage an employee to work up to 8 hours a day or 44 hours a week.

4.   An employee requested by his employer to work beyond his contractual working hours of work must be paid for the extra work at a rate not less than 1.5 times his hourly basic pay. The total working hours, including overtime work, is limited to 12 hours a day. Employers who do not comply with the law can be prosecuted and fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned up to 6 months for breach of the Act.

5.   For those not covered under Part IV of the Employment Act (non-manual workers earning a basic monthly salary above $1,600) or are excluded from the Employment Act entirely (managers and executives), they are advised to enter into a written employment contract so that the employment terms, rights and obligations are clearly understood by all parties. Notwithstanding that, they may still approach the Ministry of Manpower for advice and assistance if they encounter problems arising from their employment.

6.   We would like to advise Ms Lin to contact the Ministry at email and provide us with more details of her case that we may deal with it accordingly.


Long Hours the Bane of Contract Workers
- The Straits Times, 26 November 2007

I am a contract worker with a renowned consulting firm, currently outsourced to a large-scale IT project. Of all my colleagues at the project site (about 100 in total), I believe more than half are contract workers. Having been on the project for more than a month, I would like to highlight my concerns as a contract worker. It is stated in my employment contract that the official working hours are from 9am to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday. It is also stated that I am required to work late on weekdays and return on weekends.

So far, on weekdays, I rarely get to leave the office before 8pm, and as the company allows transport claims only after 9pm, my colleagues and I usually stay back until after 9pm whenever we have to work late. On weekends, I can clock up to 14 hours in a day and all these extra hours are without overtime pay. While I have agreed to these terms by signing the contract, there are some issues that I would like to have clarified.
Does any government agency or authority regulate the terms that may be stipulated in an employment contract for contract workers? Is there a limit to the number of hours a contract worker clocks each week? Are contract workers entitled to payment for extra hours clocked? Being a contract worker, I do not have job security as my contract may not be renewed when my project is completed, which makes clocking these long hours seem a little fruitless at the end of the day. A line needs to be drawn somewhere to safeguard the welfare of contract workers, which often seems to be neglected.