Know Your Employment Obligations - Hours of Work

Find out if daily briefings should be recognised as employees' hours of work.

16 Sep 2019 Articles Employment contract Best practices

Employment Act

In the coming months, we will share a series of pointers to help you better understand your employment obligations towards your employees. We hope that this information will enable you to review your HR practices and correctly apply the statutory provisions of the Employment Act (EA). It will also serve as a guide when you encounter difficult scenarios and issues at the workplace. 

In this month's article, we will address the topic on hours of work as illustrated in the scenario below: 

Q: My company conducts briefings every morning from 8:00am to 8:30am which all my employees are required to attend before the start of their work day. After the briefing, they work from 8:30am to 5:30pm (Monday to Friday) with a 1-hour lunch break and 8:30am - 12:30pm on Saturday. 

Are the daily briefings considered as part of employees' contractual working hours?

TAFEP's advice:

Hours of work is defined as the period during which employees are expected to carry out the duties assigned by their employer. It does not include any intervals allowed for rest, tea breaks and meals.

Based on the above definition, if the half an hour briefing before each work day is part of the employees' work requirement, it would be considered as part of employees' hours of work. 

By recognising the daily briefing as the employees' hours of work, this means that the employees are required to work an additional half an hour each day, which increases their total working hours per week from 44 hours to 47 hours. 

For employees covered under EA Part IV, they are working 3 hours more than the EA's limit of 44 hours per week. This practice does not comply with the EA (s38) as employees should not be contractually required to work more than 44 hours in a week.

Contractual Hours of Work for EA Part IV employees1

 If the employee works  Contractual working hours 
 5 days or less than a week  Up to 9 hours per day, or 44 hours a week
 More than 5 days a week  Up to 8 hours per day, or 44 hours a week 

Note: There should be 1 rest day per week.

To comply with the EA, it is the employers' responsibility to adjust and maintain the employees' working arrangement within the EA's limits of 44 hours per week as their normal hours of work. 

As long working hours can have a negative impact on employees' well-being and productivity, employers are encouraged to properly schedule their working hours and ensure that they are compensated2 when they work beyond their contractual hours which should not exceed 44 hours per week. 

For more information on hours of work, please visit Ministry of Manpower's website

Additional Resources

EAS@TAFEP - EAS@TAFEP consultants will provide scenario-based advice to employers on the EA and relevant parts of the Child Development Co-Savings Act, Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, and Retirement and Re-employment Act, which impact employment terms and conditions. 

EAS@TAFEP consultants are not providing legal advice and will not discuss points of law. We will only provide practical guidance on the application of the EA and other related labour laws to the specific scenarios that are raised by employers and share good employment practices that are adopted by industry peers and employers in Singapore. 

For more information on EAS@TAFEP, please visit TAFEP's website


1 Part IV employees: Non-workmen earning a basic monthly salary of not more than $2600, and Workmen earning a basic monthly salary of not more than $4500. 

2 Overtime must be paid at the rate of at least 1.5 times the hourly rate of pay.