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Entitlement to Overtime Pay

It is no secret that Singaporeans work long, gruelling hours compared to workers of other countries in the world. As you are pulling those long hours after work to complete a project, it is only natural to wonder whether you are legally entitled to overtime pay.

What many Singaporeans do not realise is that under the Employment Act, certain classes of workers are entitled to some level of protection. If you belong to a class of employees protected by the Employment Act, then your employer is obligated by law to pay you a higher salary for work done outside your normal working hours.

This article covers everything that you need to know about overtime pay in Singapore.

What is considered working overtime?

Overtime work is all work that is done beyond over normal working hours, excluding breaks.

Who is entitled to compulsory overtime pay?

Under Singapore’s Employment Act, an employer must pay his or her employees for overtime work if the employee is either

  • a non-workman earning up to S$2,500 per month, or
  • a workman earning up to S$4,500 per month.

It is important to take note that this article is only relevant to workers who fall within either of these categories. If your employment arrangement does not fall under either of these categories, then your employer is not obligated by law to provide overtime pay unless your contract specifically provides for it.

What is a workman?

A ‘workman’ is an employee whose work mainly involves manual labour. This includes cleaners; construction workers; metal and machinery workers; drivers of trains, buses, lorries and vans; and workers employed at piece rates at an employer’s premises.

However, seafarers and domestic workers do not qualify as workmen.

How much compulsory overtime pay am I entitled to?

For work done during overtime hours, your employer must pay you at least 1.5x (times) the basic hourly rate of pay, to a maximum overtime hourly rate of $11.80.

Your employer must record the number of overtime hours that each employee works, and the employee must be paid for overtime work within 14 days of the last day of the salary period.

What is the maximum number of hours that I can be expected to work overtime?

Generally, an employee is not permitted to work more than 12 hours a day except in the following circumstances:

  • An accident or threat of accident;
  • Work that is essential to the life of the community, national defence or security;
  • Urgent work to be done to machinery or plant;
  • An interruption of work that was impossible to foresee.

Regarding overtime work, an employee is not generally permitted to work more than 72 overtime hours per month. Work done during regular working hours on a public holiday does not count towards this overtime limit.

If employers require workers to work more than 72 overtime hours per month, then the employers must apply to the Ministry of Manpower for an exception. These exceptions are not available for industries whose work requires the following:

  • mental concentration to ensure safe operations;
  • continuous manual operation of machinery;
  • extremes of temperature or continuous changes in working temperatures;
  • elevation where workers are liable to fall more than 3 metres;
  • compressed air environments;
  • activities that are undertaken by young people or pregnant women.

Am I entitled to overtime pay as a part-time worker?

Yes. As a part-time worker, you are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5x your basic hourly rate if your working hours exceed those of a full-time employee.

However, if your hours exceed your daily working hours but do not exceed those of a full-time employee, then you are only eligible to be paid at your normal hourly rate of pay for those hours.

If an employee works overtime without the employer’s approval, is the employee still entitled to overtime pay?

No. You are only entitled to overtime pay if your employer required you to work beyond normal working hours.

The article was originally posted at

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