Singapore employees are often cited as working some of the longest hours in the world. Considering our GDP per capita, which is one of the highest in the world, this is perhaps not the most surprising thing.
Working hours are also regulated by the Singapore Employment Act, which protects certain groups of workers here. Indeed, according to the Employment Act, the definition of “hours of work” is the time during which an employee is at the disposal of the employer and is not free to dispose of his time and his movements, excluding authorized intervals for rest and meals.
Tracking working hours in Singapore is also important as it is an input to measure economic indicators in Singapore, such as productivity.
Also Read: Singapore Employment Law: 10 Legal Requirements for Paying Employees
What is the average working time in Singapore?
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) publishes paid hours worked and actual hours worked per week each year. In 2021, the average paid hours worked per week was 44.2 hours, while the actual working time was 44.4 hours.
Paid hours refers to the number of regular hours worked AND paid overtime. Actual hours worked refer to the actual time spent by employees on work activities, whether regular or paid hours.
|Year||Average paid hours worked per week
(Average actual hours worked per week)
Looking at the trend, the average number of paid and actual working hours in Singapore seems to be decreasing. Interestingly, there is also a small discrepancy between paid hours per week and actual work performed per week (shown in parentheses from 2017).
According to the latest quarterly statistics, as of March 2022, employees in Singapore continue to work an average of 44.2 hours per week.
Which industry works the most hours in Singapore?
MOM also publishes average actual working hours at the industry level.
|Industry||Average actual number of hours worked per week in 2021|
|The wholesale trade||41.0|
|Transport and storage||43.7|
|Food and beverage services||41.1|
|Information and communications||40.9|
|Financial and insurance services||42.0|
|Real estate services||42.4|
|Administrative and support services||41.5|
|Other service industries||51.4|
|Other (includes agriculture, fishing, quarrying, utilities, and sanitation and waste management||40.6|
According to statistics, employees in the Other and Information and Communications sectors worked the fewest hours. Meanwhile, employees working in the other service industries worked the most by far – at 51.4 hours.
For those who wonder what this classification is based on, given that there are “Others” and obviously missing ones, we can refer to the SSIC Code.
Also Read: What is Singapore Standard Industrial Classification Code (SSIC) and Why It Matters
How many hours can employees work (according to employment law)?
Under Part 4 of the Jobs Act, employees cannot be required to work “more than 6 consecutive hours without time off” and “more than 8 hours a day or more than 44 hours a week”.
Some layouts also offer greater flexibility. For example, employees can work up to 9 hours in a day if they work less on another day, but only within the limit of 44 hours in a week. Employees can also work up to 48 hours per week, provided they do not work more than 9 hours per day and more than 88 hours in any two-week period.
Since ‘hours of work’ falls under Part 4 of the Employment Act, we should also note that it only applies to certain groups of employees, such as:
#1 to workers who receive a salary not exceeding $4,500 per month (excluding other types of payments and bonuses)
#2 any employee (other than a laborer or a person employed in a managerial or managerial position) who receives a salary not exceeding $2,600 per month (excluding other types of payments and bonuses)
Also read: Complete guide to understanding annual leave entitlements in Singapore
Definition Part-time workers are determined by working hours
The Employment Act also defines part-time employees as “an employee who is required under their contract of employment with an employer to work less than 35 hours per week”.
According to this definition, it also means that full-time employment refers to employees whose normal working hours are at least 35 hours per week.
Read also: Part-time employment regulations: 10 things to know when hiring a part-time employee
How accurate are statistics on hours worked per week?
According to the MOM, statistics on hours worked are compiled from its biannual Survey of Employment Conditions. This means that it is self-reported by employers.
Nevertheless, the number of hours worked by employees in Singapore is already high compared to other countries. You can just Google “which countries work the longest hours” and see that Singapore ranks very well. Even if Singapore doesn’t feature in a report, our average 44.4 hour working week (or 2308.8 average working hours per year) will rank quite high on the list.
Also Read: 17 Types of Leave Offered by Singapore Companies (Statutory and Non-Statutory)
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