10 Things a Boss in S’pore Can’t Do, If Not He’s Breaking the Law

Last Updated on 2020-12-14 , 4:30 pm

Let’s face it: in a competitive society like Singapore, you’re being conditioned to say “Yes” to every demand from your boss, because making him happy is the only way to ensure that there’s bread on the table.

But do you know that there are apparently actual laws to protect you? Known as the Employment Act, it’s Singapore main labour law to protect employees.

Here’s a video we’ve done for this topic, lest you’re the type who prefer to watch than read:

Still here? Well, read on.

Not that we’re suggesting you to “play law” the moment your boss started to come out with unreasonable requests, but you definitely need to know this because there’ve been too many cases of employees being treated unfairly by their bosses, and yet they still think it’s normal. Remember the 29-year-old “intern” who was physically abused by his supervisor for three years?

Your boss cannot just ask you to attend a course outside working hours without paying you

If the course is arranged by your company, and it’s after office hours, you should be paid an allowance at your hourly rate of pay. It doesn’t matter that you’re not working during this period: it’s still time off your personal time.

However, in this bleak economic climate, employers may be hesitant to send employees for training AND pay their allowance.

Hence for Budget 2017, NTUC PME advocate Patrick Tay is lobbying for the government to fund training leave (possibly SkillsFuture Leave) for workers to attend SkillsFuture courses/programmes.

Your boss cannot anyhow anyhow cut your pay

Does your boss often threaten to cut your pay for a minor mistake? If so, he’s mere threatening, because other than these situations, he doesn’t have the right to deduct your pay:

  • For absence from work
  • For damage to or loss of goods or money entrusted to the employee, after conducting an inquiry (max is 25% of your monthly salary)
  • For cost of meals, if requested by employee
  • For accommodation, amenities or services
  • For the recovery of advances, loans or salary overpayments
  • For income tax payments
  • For contributions to CPF & other schemes approved by the Commissioner for Labour
  • For payments to registered co-operative societies

(Info source)

So, if your boss decides to cut your pay for, you know, not meeting deadlines, you know he has just broken the law.

Even if your boss has valid reasons to cut your pay, it can’t be more than 50% of your monthly pay

Imagine working for a month and having no salary at all, because all of them are deducted for whatever reasons your boss gives (which you accept). That’s hell on Earth, but no worries; there’s a law to protect you.

Even if there’re valid reasons to cut your pay, the total amount deducted cannot be more than 50% of your total salary. But of course, if the amount can be so large, you should be more worried about getting a warning letter than the pay cut.

Your boss cannot get you to work for six hours consecutively

Bet you didn’t know that, eh? For every six hours of work, you’re entitled to a break which should last for at least 45 minutes.

However, if the nature of the work requires you to be working for up to a maximum of 8 hours, there should be a break to have your meal.

Your boss cannot get you to work more than 12 hours a day

Think you’re a superhero who can work 24 hours a day? Well, too bad, because the law wants you to rest. As an employee, the maximum number of hours you can work is 12 hours a day, unless one of these occurs:

  • 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.

Now you know why shift work is always capped at 12 hours per shift, eh?

Your boss cannot delay your pay and must pay you at least once a month

It doesn’t matter whether clients have made payment or not—your boss must pay you at least once a month. They can pay you more often, but never less. Don’t even believe in any sob stories from your boss about paying you two months later due to some cashflow issue or whatnot: the law makes sure that you always have bread on your table as long as you work.

Your boss cannot deny any CPF contribution just because you “earn less”

As long as you earn more than $50 a month, your boss must contribute to your CPF. Don’t gong gong accept the fact that just because you can’t see and use those money now, you don’t mind them disappearing into thin air.

Your boss cannot refuse your resignation letter

Ever seen scenes in movies when the boss literally tore the resignation letter, and say that it’s not approved? Well, movies are movies—when you submit your resignation letter, you’re not seeking for approval, but giving a statement.

And anyways, if you’ve once thrown that letter, it’s best to leave. No employer would like an uncommitted staff to demoralize the whole office.

Your boss cannot force you to do OT

Doing OT is voluntarily and not compulsory. As long as you’ve worked 44 hours a week, any extra hour you put in is purely voluntarily. Your boss can only ask you to stay back, but not force you to stay back.

Your boss cannot deduct a bulk of your salary if you’re late

It’s essential to have a system to deter latecomers, but here’s the fact: your boss cannot deduct more than the period that you’re late. For example, if you’re late by one hour, only one hour’s salary can be deducted.

If there’re companies that set a standard rate for deduction, then they’re essentially breaking the law.

Your boss cannot have physical contact with you if you didn’t give your permission

Well, this is clear-cut to some, and pretty ambiguous to some: what is sexual harassment? To put it in its simplest form, your boss has no rights to have any physical contact with you without your permission. Full stop.

If he does, he’s not just breaking the Employment Act—he’ll be faced with a criminal charge instead.