HRSINGAPORE Community Discussions

Public holiday leave compensation during lockdown


Dear HR Community

Hi. I would like to find out more about the compensation for replacement off for public holidays in months of April and May 2020 during this circuit breaker period.

For retail staff who are not able to perform work from home duties, and are not working during this period, are they still entitled to the extra day of gazetted public holidays in months of April and May?

For retail staff who perform work on certain days for e-commerce online, some days fall on public holidays and some days do not.

Are they entitled to all the extra day public holidays replacement off for all of the public holidays that fall in months of April and May; or do we only compensate the extra replacement off for the exact days of public holidays that they work.

Please advice. Thank you!

Best Regards




All employees are entitled to public holiday off. During Circuit Breaker, most retail employees under non-essential are not working (Apr & May)

1. If the employee is going for annual leave during this period, the employer will continue to pay the basic salary only.

2. If the employee is going for no-paid leave during April & May, then the employer has to grant employee Off-in-lieu of PH when they resume work. Alternatively, you may pay them an extra day's salary for each holiday.

Singapore has 11 gazetted public holidays.




Dear Evelin,

I note that Season has already provided the answer to your question. Hence, my response will be an expansion of her response.

1.  Eligibility

1-1 Eligibility under Employment Act

All employees who have entered into a contract of service are covered by the Employment Act in Singapore with exception to Seafarers, Domestic Workers, and Civil Servants & Statutory Board Employees.

1-2 Part IV of the Employment Act speaks about Rest days, Hours of Work and Other Conditions of Service, which only two groups of individuals are eligible for coverage:

-Workmen earning a base pay of up to $4,500 a month, or
-Non-workmen or PMEs earning a base pay of up to $2,600 a month

1-3 Given that you are speaking about employees who are individuals who have the privilege of paid public holidays, I will take the base assumption that these individuals are on a contract of service and not a contractor who is engaged through a contract for service.

2. Public Holiday Under Employment Act

Holiday legislations are written into Part X of the Employment Act, further enforcing that this is something that all employers are obligated by.

2-1 In the first part of your question – Employees not working during this period

The situation may be unique, but it is not voluntarily requested by the employee.

This means that an employer may not invoke Section 88, Subsection 2 of the Employment Act.

The cited subsection suggests that employees are not entitled to a holiday for any public holiday which falls on a day when the employee is on an unpaid leave of absence which was granted by the employer at the request of the employee. Hence, yes you will need to grant the public holiday in lieu.

2-2 Part 2 of your question – Retail Staff who perform work on certain days

With reference to Section 88, Subsection 4A, where it states that any employee (apart from people covered by Part IV) is required by their employer to work on any public holiday to which would otherwise be entitled to a public holiday, the employee should be paid the gross rate of pay for that day and maybe given either a day off in substitution for that holiday or an extra day’s salary at the basic rate of pay.

2-3 If there are company policies outlining details about working on a public holiday:

-Part of a day off or the whole day off on a working day, which is mutually agreed and outlined in policy with the number of hours attributed to it.

2-4 In the situation where such policies are absent:

-Legislation dictates - 4 hours off on a working day if the employee worked on that holiday for a period not exceeding 4 hours or a full day off on a working day if the employee worked on that holiday for a period of more than 4 hours.

2-5 Subsection (1) of Section 88 – Every employee shall be entitled to a paid holiday at his gross rate of pay on a public holiday that falls during the time that he is employed, subject to the following:

-by agreement between the employer and the employee any other day or days may be substituted for any one or more public holidays;

-if any public holiday falls on a rest day, the working day next following that rest day shall be a paid holiday; and

-if any public holiday falls on a day when the employee is not required to work under his contract of service, the employer may either pay the employee for that holiday at his gross rate of pay or give the employee a day off in substitution for that holiday.

Hope this provides a clear explanation around Season’s response.





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