Guide To Probation Period For Employees In Singapore (And What Employment Rights They Have)

Probation period Singapore

Many employers in Singapore include a probation period for their new hires. This is meant for them to evaluate a new employee’s ability and culture fit. 

As probation periods are not mandatory, it is not exactly regulated in Singapore. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) only goes as far as to say that probation periods must be listed in an employee’s employment terms.

This also means employers can also cut short or extend probation periods – if both employer and employee mutually agree. To avoid misunderstandings, it is a good practice for employers to furnish a confirmation letter to employees who complete their probation period.

Read Also: Minimum Requirements For Key Employment Terms (KETs) On Employees Contracts

Why Do Employers Have Probation Period For Workers?

Having a probation period is primarily meant to protect employers from hiring unsuitable new employees. While the interview process is meant to weed out incompetent candidates, it is unlikely to be a perfect system. 

A probation period thus enables employers to terminate unsuitable employees with a minimal notice period and cost – especially if an employer actually prefers longer notice periods in their employment contracts.

For example, a business may typically have a 2-month notice period in their employment contract so they have sufficient time to replace employees who leave. Having a shorter notice period for employees on probation means they can part ways with them much faster.

Probation periods work both ways. This means employees also get to assess their employers and the organisations that they are in during their probation period. They too can choose to leave with a minimal notice period listed in their employment terms.

Even though an employee may be on probation, they should not be dismissed for discriminatory or unfair reasons. As mentioned, the probation should be for protecting against hiring unsuitable employees.

Read Also: Managing Notice Period: Understanding Employee Entitlements When They Are Leaving Your Business

How Long Is The Probation Period In Singapore?

While it is common for employers to have a 3-6 months’ probation period for their workers in Singapore, it is not compulsory. 

What is compulsory is for employers to list their employee’s probation period under their terms of employment. This is part of the Key Employment Terms (KETs) that have to be furnished to new employees.

This means employers can determine a probation period lasting any time frame they wish. However, if the length of the probation period or the employment terms is too long or short compared to other hiring companies, most employees would logically avoid working for such an organisation.

What Is The Notice Period For Employees During The Probation Period?

The notice period for employees is usually determined by the employer. Typically, it will be much shorter than their usual notice period, as the intention is to dismiss unsuitable employees more quickly.

While employers can list a notice period of their preference, Singapore’s Employment Act allows them to terminate employees who work less than 26 weeks (i.e. 6 months) with a Notice Period of just 1 day. 

Length of ServiceNotice Period
Less than 26 weeks1 day
26 weeks to less than 2 years1 week
2 years to less than 5 years2 weeks
5 years or more4 weeks
Source: MOM

Again, this is just the minimum, and employers can insert a longer notice period for employees on probation. For example, employees on probation may still require a notice period of 1 week. 

Similarly, employees will also be able to leave their employment with the same notice period.

Read Also: Singapore Employment Act: 10 Statutory Requirements To Pay Employees

What Employment Rights Do Employees Under Probation Period Have?

As Singapore’s Employment Act does not recognise any probation period, all employees are protected equally.

Typically, the only difference during an employee’s probation period is whether they get to enjoy the full benefits that a company provides their full-time employees – beyond the minimum statutory requirements.

It is also quite common for a business to offer employees preferential terms in their employment contract compared to Singapore’s Employment Act.

For example, all employees, whether on probation or not, are entitled to CPF contributions, and public holidays at the same level. All employees are also protected with the minimum requirements for Key Employment Terms (KETs). This includes calculations for Overtime Pay, leaves, medical benefits, notice period, and more. As mentioned, the minimum KETs – as listed under the Employment Act – may differ from the benefits that businesses provide their employees.

Nevertheless, even the Employment Act in Singapore does make certain differentiation for employees based on the amount of time they have worked at a business as well. Typically, employees who have worked with a business for less than 3 to 6 months receive less benefits.

For example, employees only become entitled to benefits such as paid annual leaves after working for their employers for 3 months. Employees also qualify for government-paid maternity leave and paternity if they have worked for 3 months before their child is born.

Employees also become entitled to paid sick leaves after working for their employers for 3 months. However, the number of paid sick leaves they are entitled to rises from 5 to the full 14 days depending on how long they have worked with their employers.

Number of months worked with employerPaid outpatient sick leavePaid hospitalisation leave
35 days15 days
48 days30 days
511 days45 days
6 and thereafter14 days60 days
Source: MOM

Of course, businesses may go beyond the Employment Act, offering “confirmed” employees more annual leaves or maternity/paternity leaves, or better medical coverage.

Perhaps, this is also why employers may prefer to set probation periods lasting either 3 or 6 months.

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