Employee Rights in Singapore During the Probation Period

Zoeb Morbiwala
May 17

A probation period is usually defined as a period of time during the start of employment when the employer can dismiss the new employee with very little or no notice period. This is a common practice in Singapore, and even though the Employment Act in Singapore doesn’t have specific clauses defining the probation period, the duration mostly ranges between 3-6 months. It helps employers to be sure that they have hired the right person and take swift action if they feel otherwise. Furthermore, it reduces company expenses of continuing with someone who is not fit for the role. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Employee Rights During Probation Period

What happens when you are on probation in Singapore?

During the probation period in Singapore, an employer evaluates your performance to determine whether you are suitable for the job or not. It also gives you a chance to understand if the job is suitable for you based on the responsibilities you need to fulfil and the work environment in the organisation. 

Once the probation period is over, the employer might retain you as a full-time employee, but there is no guarantee that it will happen. It would depend on your performance and what the employer is looking for in you. The employer should provide you with written confirmation if they decide to hire you as a permanent employee. 

What is a reasonable probation period in Singapore?

Usually, the probation period in Singapore is between 3-6 months. However, there are no clear guidelines about the exact duration given by the Employment Act in Singapore. The exact duration is determined by the employer, which is mentioned in your agreement. 

In certain cases, employers go with a continuing probation period, which means that it ends only if you are either hired as a full-time employee or if the contract is terminated. 

How much will you be paid when on probation?

The amount of remuneration you will be paid during the probation period might vary from one employer to the other. It also depends on the nature of your work. The remuneration should be clearly stated in your agreement and you shall be given a raise depending on your performance, the terms of the agreement, and the final confirmation of your employment status. 

What are the leave policies during the probation period?

If you have completed a period of three months with an organisation and you are covered under the Employment Act, you are entitled to sick leave and annual leave. For female employees, maternity cover including maternity leave can be availed if the three-month period is over. 

However, if you are still within the three-month probation period, you will not be entitled to avail any of these leaves.

Can I leave the organisation during or at the end of the probation period?

During the probation period, an employee can leave the organisation by either serving the notice period or paying the compensation in lieu of the notice. Similarly,  the employer has the right to terminate your contract by giving you the required notice or by paying your salary in lieu of the notice period. This is clearly mentioned in the agreement.   

After the completion of the probation period, both you and your employer can terminate the employment by doing the same – serving the notice period or compensating in lieu of the notice period. 

Is it possible to extend the notice period?

The employer reserves the right to extend your notice period if they need more time to evaluate your work in the organisation. This is mentioned in the contract wherever applicable or can remain as per the employer’s discretion. 

Am I entitled to overtime pay?

The Employment Act in Singapore provides the provision for overtime remuneration to all employees regardless of their employment status. You are entitled to overtime pay if you work for more than the number of hours specified in your contract. Besides, your contractual working hours should not be more than 8 hours a day or 44 hours a week. 

Are employees on probation period entitled to medical claims?

If an employee has worked with an organisation for at least three months, he/she is entitled to some basic medical claims like the medical examination fee or medical consultation fee. This is applicable even if the employee is on probation. Certain other medical claim facilities like treatment costs, ward charges, and medication are also covered by certain organisations. If it is mentioned in the employment contract, the organisation is legally bound to comply. 

Can an employee be fired without any reason during the probation period?

Employees on probation can’t be dismissed for discriminatory reasons. This includes race, sexuality, nationality, gender, religion or beliefs, pregnancy or absence due to maternity leave, disability, age, and marital or civil status. If an employee is fired for these reasons, they are entitled to claim against you. A contract can be terminated for poor performance, unruly behaviour, persistent absenteeism or coming late to the office, etc. But one needs to be careful about terminations as there can be underlying factors like disability. 

The probation period in Singapore is a common practice that allows both employers and employees to assess the nature of work and how suitable they are for the role. This allows the organisation to make a long-term investment in an employee and help the employees to work in an organisation they feel fit to be with.

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