Core Facts

  • Population:  5.8M
  • GDP:  USD 293 billion
  • GDP per head:  USD 51,885
  • Workforce:  3.7M
  • Unemployment (2017):  2.3%
  • Average monthly wages (2017):  USD 3,878


Singapore grants an unusual level of freedom to the employer with regard to contractual terms. Employees who earn above a specified level are not subject to the principal employment legislation at all and the employer is almost entirely free to set their employment terms by contract, subject to the constraints of the market. This means that higher-paid employees have no statutory entitlement to, for example, annual leave, bank holidays, or regulated working hours. For employees who are covered by statute, the entitlements are, nevertheless, low.

For employees covered by the employment law, the global employer will, however, need to be aware of common practices in this jurisdiction, particularly given the high level of employee unionisation.  Generally employees are granted rights significantly greater than those set out in the employment legislation.

The law with regard to dismissals is not dissimilar to that in the UK, with employers enjoying relative freedom to dismiss for reasons such as misconduct, redundancy, and poor performance, providing they follow a reasonable procedure.