What is the Legal Age to Work Full-Time and Part-Time in Singapore?

The Employment Act was enacted in 1967 and it establishes the minimum age in Singapore. The Employment Act adopts a minimum working age of 14 but the Minister may prescribe a different age for any occupation or class of work. It also defines the types of work that are considered to be manual labour for children under 14 years old.

According to the the Ministry of Manpower, the legal age to work in Singapore for children and young persons is 13 years old. ​ Children and young persons aged 13 years to 16 years can work, but there are certain limitation.

Perhaps during their time, our grandparents were already working at an age that is now allowed now under current labour laws. Over time, laws were enacted to ensure children and young persons are protected and for them to have adequate time for their studies.

In general, the Law prohibits the employment of children and young persons under 16 years. Employers may, however, take on 14 and 15 year olds, on light work:
  • during the school holidays, provided there is a minimum three week break from work during the summer,

  • part time during the school term (over 15 years old only, and for a maximum of 8 hours in the week),

  • as part of an approved work experience or education programme where the work is not harmful to their safety, health or development.

Children (i.e. under 16 years of age) can also be employed in cultural, artistic, sports or advertising work which does not interfere with their attendance at school, vocational guidance or training programmes or capacity to benefit from the instruction received.

All minors 16 and under must have a work permit on file with the department. If the employer has a restaurant designation and is licensed to sell alcohol, then all minors 17 years of age must also have an approved work permit.

Unlike most other countries, under Singapore's employment laws, part-timers and contract workers enjoy almost the same protection as permanent full-time employees. However, you must review the employment contract first. The employment contract is the most important document as it specifies the terms and conditions of employment between you and your employee.

Under the Singapore employment act, children under 16 years of age are not permitted to start work before 8.00 a.m. They are not allowed to work beyond 8.00 p.m. on any day.

Young persons aged 16 and 17 years are not permitted to start work before 6.00 a.m. They must finish work at 10.00 p.m. on days preceding a school day. They may work up to 11.00 p.m. on days where they have no school the next day: in such instances they must not start work before 7.00 a.m. the next day. However, it should be noted that work past 10.00 p.m. is subject to Ministerial approval by regulation.

If you want to employ children and young persons as workmen doing manual labour: They cannot work at night, between 11pm and 6am the next day. They cannot work on their rest days without permission from the Commissioner for Labour. Also they cannot work during public holidays without special permission from MOM.

A special Code of Practice Concerning the Employment of Young Persons in Licensed Premises is in place governing employment of 16 and 17 years olds in the Licensed trade. This must be signed by the employer, the employee and his/her parent or guardian.

Under 16s must be given a 30 minute break after working 4 hours. They must be given a break of 14 hours in every 24 hours, and 2 days off in every 7.

Young persons aged 16 and 17 years must be given a 30 minute break after working 4½ hours. They are entitled to 12 hours off in every 24 hours and 2 days off in every 7 days.

  • Industrial Setting: Under the employment act, no young persons aged 15 to less than 16 years can be employed in an industrial setting except has been certified to be medically fit. For employment of children or young persons in industrial environments, employers must inform the Commissioner of Labour within 30 days of employment and submit a medical certificate to certify fitness for work.
  • Laborer: No child aged 13 to less than 15 years can be employed as a laborer for more than 3 hours without a 30 minute break or more than 6 hours in any one day.
  • On a ship: No child, except a child employed under an approved apprenticeship scheme, can be employed as a laborer on any ship unless the ship is under the personal charge of the parent of the child.
  • Working with electrical equipment: No person can employ any child or young person in any service involving of any live electrical equipment not insulated effectively.
  • Underground work: No child or young person can be employed in any underground work.

1. Flash Coffee

No experience welcome; immediate starters a plus

2. Starbucks

Minimum age is 16 years

Online application or walk-in interview

3. Gong Cha

Minimum age is 16 years

Pays $7-$8 an hour

4. McDonald’s

Minimum age is 14 years

Requires four hours of work minimum per day, at least once a week

Online application or walk-in interview

5. MOSburger

Minimum age is 14 years

Requires four hours of work minimum per day, at least twice a week; flexible working hours

Offers meals, uniforms, medical benefits and staff discounts

Online application

6. Texas Chicken

Pays $5-$7 an hour

Minimum age is 14 years

Provides uniforms, meals and medical benefits

Walk-in interview

7. Lush Cosmetics

Minimum age is 16 years

8. Daiso

Flexible hours for store helpers

Pop in-store to fill out an application form

Minimum age is 16 years

9. Safe Entry officers

Pays $8 an hour

Flexible hours

Some forms of job are unsuitable for those under 16 years old such as jobs that may cause injury, being near or around live electrical equipment that aren't insulated effectively and any underground jobs. If you are 13 years old or above can engage in light work in a non-industrial setting such as serving drinks and food or cleaning up tables in hawker centers.

Read: Working Hours in Singapore


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