Interns do make up a valuable portion of the Singapore workforce. Many companies do offer internship positions mainly to local polytechnic and university students to expand their workforce and to assess possible candidates for full-time employment positions. Intership positions are also available to those who are not students. It may be a way of a company assessing whether a certain individual is suited for a certain position.

There is an employment contract given to interns and under the Employment Act, interns are also employees as they “entered into or works under a contract of service with an employer”. Thus the rights of interns are covered in the Employment Act. This, however, does not cover students undergoing internships as part of their school requirements.


Pay Matters

There is no minimum amount stated in the Employment Act that interns need to be paid. Interns can be unpaid. However, companies usually pay monthly allowances to help to offset travel and food expenses of interns. If a company is applying for certain government grants or schemes, there may be a minimum allowance requirement.

If a certain pay or allowance is agreed upon, this payment must be made at least once a month. As stated in the Employment Act, the pay or allowance must be made before the 7th day after the expiry of the allowance period. For example, if the expiry of the allowance period is on the 30th of June, payment must be made before the 7th of July. For overtime payment, the pay or allowance must be made before the 14th day after the expiry of the allowance period during which overtime work was performed. For example, if the allowance period is on the 30th of June, the pay or allowance must be made before the 14th of July.

Pay and allowances must also be paid pro-rated if the intern did not complete a whole month of service. The formula to calculate pro-rated pay or allowances is

(Monthly gross pay x Number of days worked) / Number of days the intern is actually required to work

For example, if the monthly gross pay of an intern is $1000 and the number of days worked is 15 whereas the number of days the intern is actually required to work then the pro-rated pay is as such:

($1000 x 15) / 20 = $750

For this calculation, on any day the intern worked for 5 hours or less, it shall be regarded as half-day.

Interns are entitled to CPF contributions unless in the following cases:
– ITE, Polytechnic or university students on approved internships
– Students who intern during their school holiday periods
– Overseas university students who are required to take up internships of up to 6 months in Singapore.

If the intern terminates his contract with sufficient prior notice given, the total pay due to him must be paid to him on the day on which the employment contract is terminated. If the intern terminates his contract without giving sufficient prior notice, the pay or allowance must be made before the 7th day after the expiry of the allowance period. The required notice period is usually stated in the employment contract but if there is no such clause then the termination notice period will be as follows:

Employment period of less than 26 weeks: 1 day notice period
Employment period of more than 26 weeks but less than 2 years: 1 week notice


Leave Matters

Interns are eligible for paid annual leave on a pro-rated basis if they have worked for at least 3 months. As internships are usually not long-term and may not last past a year, the annual leave entitlement of an intern is calculated in proportion to the number of completed months of service in that year. A fraction of a day that is less than half a day is disregarded and a fraction that is more than half a day is regarded as one day.

If the intern is absent without permission or a valid reason for more than 20% of the working days, he or she will not be entitled to any annual leave.

The amount of sick leave an intern is entitled to is based on the employment period and are as follows:
– Employed for at least 3 months but less than 4 months: 5 days
– Employed for at least 4 months but less than 5 months: 8 days
– Employed for at least 5 months but less than 6 months: 11 days
– Employed for 6 months or more: 14 days


Working Hours

An intern must not be required to work more than 6 consecutive hours without taking a break and should not be made to work more than 8 hours a day or 44 hours in a week. If there are exceptional circumstances like an accident or an emergency, urgent work to machinery or plant or if the work is essential for defence and/ or security then these limits may be breached.

If an employer requires the intern to work longer than the permitted hours, the employee must pay the intern overtime pay at a rate not less than 1.5 times his hourly basic rate of pay. Even so, the intern is not allowed to work more than 72 hours of overtime a month.


Consequences for Breaching the Employment Rights of Interns

If an employer fails to pay the required allowance or contravene any of the intern’s employment rights, it is an offence under the Employment act and will be liable for a fine up to SGD$5000. For repeat offenders, the fine is up to SGD$10,000 or imprisonment for a term up to 12 months or both.


If you are looking for an employment agency, please refer to our associate firm’s website


When in doubt, seek legal advice or consult an experienced ACRA Filing Agent.

Yours Sincerely,
The editorial team at Singapore Secretary Services

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