What SMEs Need To Know About Singapore Employment Rights for Interns and SGUNITED/ MID-CAREER Trainees

employment rights interns trainees

With the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package extended till 2022, the Government continues to offer assistance for jobseekers through programmes such as the Mid-Career Pathway Programme and Traineeship Programme.

Companies who do not qualify for these programmes can also hire interns.

However, trainees and interns, not being full-time employees, have different legal rights. Here we look at the different rights they have at work.



Interns

As such, as long as an intern is employed under a contract of service, he will be considered an employee and will be covered under this piece of legislation. The exception to this is student internships, as those are conducted as part of their educational curriculums.


Do interns need to be paid?

There is no minimum allowance requirement stipulated for interns under the Employment Act. Therefore, internship programmes can be unpaid. However, companies are encouraged to provide monthly stipends to defray their food and travelling expenses incurred during the employment period.

In addition, companies applying for government grants to offset the costs of hiring an intern will probably be required to comply with minimum allowance requirements.

For instance, under the Global Ready Talent Programme, employers can receive up to 70% government support for internship allowances but must offer interns a minimum monthly allowance (before funding) of S$800 to ITE and polytechnic students and S$1,000 to university students.


Are interns entitled to CPF contributions?

Interns are generally entitled to CPF contributions. This is unless they fall within exceptions such as:

  • Students who intern during their school holiday period (and have not completed their A-levels)

  • Polytechnic, ITE and university students undertaking approved internships (whether during the school term or school holiday period)

  • Overseas university students required to take up internships of up to 6 months in Singapore


Are interns entitled to leaves?

Interns are legally entitled to paid annual leave and medical leave if they have worked for at least three months.

For annual leave, employees who serves an employer for one year are entitled to 7 days of annual leave. Interns whose employment last less than a year will have their annual leave pro-rated.

Interns’ sick leave entitlement, as certified by a medical practitioner, are as follows:

Employment Period

Amount of sick leave if no hospitalisation is necessary

Amount of sick leave if hospitalisation is necessary

At least 3 months but less than 4 months

5 days

Either 15 days or 5 days plus the number of days the intern is hospitalised for, whichever is lesser

At least 4 months but less than 5 months

8 days

Either 30 days or 8 days plus the number of days the intern is hospitalised for, whichever is lesser

At least 5 months but less than 6 months

11 days

Either 45 days or 11 days plus the number of days the intern is hospitalised for, whichever is lesser

6 months or more

14 days

Either 60 days or 14 days plus the number of days the intern is hospitalised for, whichever is lesser



Receiving of Key Employment Terms (KET)

If an intern is to be employed for 14 days or more, they will require their terms of employment to be formally ratified in an employment contract, issued within 14 days after the start of employment.

The contract must include these Key Employment Terms (KET):

  • Full name of employer and employee;

  • Employee’s job title, main duties and responsibilities;

  • Start date of employment;

  • Duration of employment;

  • Working arrangements, including the daily working hours, number of working hours per week and rest days;

  • Salary period and basic salary (specifying basic rate of pay if required);

  • Fixed allowances and deductions;

  • Overtime payment period and rate of pay;

  • Other salary-related components, including bonuses and incentives;

  • Type of leave, such as annual leave, outpatient sick leave, hospitalisation leave;

  • Other medical benefits, such as insurance, medical benefits, dental benefits;

  • Probation period (if applicable) and notice period; and

  • Place of work (optional but encouraged to include this if this is different from the employer’s address).


Notice Period

The required notice period for terminating an internship is usually stated in the terms of the employment contract. If there is no such provision, the notice period for termination, which can be provided by either party, should be as follows:

Employment Period

Notice Period

Less than 26 weeks

1 day’s notice

More than 26 weeks but less than 2 years

1 week’s notice



Trainees

SGUnited trainees taken in under the various Programmes such as the Mid-Career Pathway Programme and Traineeship Programme are not considered employees.

This means that while they are entitled to monetary allowances under their respective programmes they are not legally covered under the Employment Act and are thus not technically entitled to employment rights.

As such, by default, trainees are not entitled to CPF contributions, annual leave, or sick leave. However, the Government does encourage companies to provide at least 7 days annual leave and 7 days paid medical leave, and some employers have even taken the initiative to offer up to 21 days of annual leave as per their standard employment contract.

In addition, employers are still responsible for ensuring safe workplaces for trainees. Trainees who suffer injury at the workplace may be able to claim work injury compensation.

Finally, SGUnited trainees do not have a specific notice period. This is because the working agreement was always meant to be temporary and can be easily terminated if the trainees have managed to find actual employment.

A traineeship is no guarantee of a future full-time position. If the employee wishes to formally employ the trainee either during or after the programme, an official employment contract must be offered.


Conclusion

While interns are not guaranteed any remuneration, they technically have more rights than SGUnited trainees.

However, goodwill goes a long way, particularly if an employer is looking to hire a valued trainee as a permanent employee. An employer should not fall afoul of legal requirements, but those who look to do right by their employees beyond the bare minimum will surely be more appreciated.

 

Read also: Singapore Income Tax: Are Your Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) or Job Growth Incentives (JGI) COVID-19-Related Payouts Taxable?
Read also: Singapore Businesses’ Guide to Hiring Interns + Grants For Interns 2021


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