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Holidays on Saturdays: Workers Entitled to a Day Off

  • TODAY (11 May 2012) : Holidays on Saturdays: Workers Entitled to a Day Off
  • TODAY (08 May 2012) : Replace Holidays that fall on Saturdays, too

Holidays on Saturdays: Workers Entitled to a Day Off 
- TODAY, 11 May 2012

  1. We thank Mr Leow for the suggestions in his letter (TODAY, 8 May 2012). 
  2. In 2010, approximately 2 out of 5 full-time employees in the private sector worked five days a week. 15% of employees are on the 5.5-day and 17% of employees are on a 6-day workweek arrangement. The remaining worked on shift work or with alternate Saturdays off. This shows that the 5-day work week is not uniformly applied in Singapore and companies need the flexibility to respond to different business environments. 
  3. As such, a significant proportion of workers do work on Saturdays and they would therefore enjoy the public holiday that falls on a Saturday. 
  4. For employees who are not required to work on Saturdays, they are entitled to claim a day off or compensation in lieu for that public holiday if they are covered under the Employment Act. It is therefore not up to the employer’s discretion or goodwill to grant their employees a day off in lieu under the law. Members of the public can refer to http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/employment-rights-conditions/employment-act/Pages/default.aspx for more information.


Replace Holidays that fall on Saturdays, too
- TODAY, 08 May 2012

  1. Vesak Day this year fell on a Saturday. 
  2. The Holidays Act provides for public holidays which fall on a Sunday to be automatically replaced, usually on the following day. 
  3. The rationale for this appears to be as follows:
    (1) Sunday is a non-working day.
    (2) If a public holiday falls on a non-working day, the "loss" of that public holiday should be "replaced".
  4. The overwhelming proportion of the Civil Service in Singapore now observes a five-day work week. A substantial number of private sector employees do as well. 
  5. This means that for employees who observe a five-day work week, in addition to Sunday, Saturday is also a non-working day.
  6. However, under the Holidays Act, if a public holiday, such as this year's Vesak Day, falls on a Saturday, those employees for whom Saturday was originally a non-working day do not automatically enjoy a replacement holiday. 
  7. Admittedly, there does appear to be a custom whereby employers often do give employees a replacement holiday for public holidays that fall on a Saturday if that is already a non-working day. 
  8. But, crucially, this is entirely up to the employers' discretion and indulgence and they are not compelled to do so by law. They can, in fact, choose not to offer an "off-in-lieu" or choose to offer it discriminately to certain employees only. 
  9. Is it not peculiar that public holidays which fall on a Sunday are automatically replaced, while those which fall on a Saturday are not, since both are non-working days? Why should employees have to rely on their employers' goodwill, which is not always forthcoming? 
  10. Could the law not compel employers to compensate employees for what is effectively the loss of one rest day?