Employee Rights During the Probation Period in Singapore

Last updated on May 24, 2021

Smiling woman shaking hands with her new employer after a successful job interview

In Singapore, many employees commence their employment on a probationary basis. The probation period allows the employer to gauge the employee’s performance and assess whether the employee is a good fit for the organisation.

If you are an employee on probation, you may be uncertain about what rights you possess during the probation period, as compared to the rights of employees who have successfully completed probation.

This article provides a comprehensive guide for employees on probation in Singapore who may wish to know about their probationary rights, and the specific provisions relating to your probation that you should look out for in your employment contract. It will cover:

What Happens When You’re on Probation in Singapore?

During your probation, your employer will evaluate your job performance to determine if you are capable of handling the tasks given to you. It is also a period for you to assess whether the job is suitable for you, based on your job responsibilities and work environment.

Upon successful completion of the probation period, the employer can retain you as an employee on a permanent basis. However, you should not assume that you will be automatically retained upon the end of your probation period. Ideally, your employer will issue you a written confirmation of your retention as a permanent employee after you have completed probation.

If you do not receive a confirmation at the end of your probation period, you should check with your employer or the human resource department in your organisation.

Length of Probation Period

The probation period is typically 3–6 months. However, this is only a guideline and the exact length of your probation will be stated in your employment contract.

It is also possible that some contracts will state that the probation period is a continuing one, until such time when the employer confirms your retention as an employee, or terminates the employment. Thus, such a probation period could be shorter than 3 months or longer than 6 months, at your employer’s discretion.

How Much Will You Be Paid While on Probation?

The amount that you will be paid on probation should be stated in your employment contract. Depending on the terms of the contract, it may provide that your salary will be increased upon successful confirmation of your employment with your employer, or if you display good performance during your probation.

Can You Take Leave During the Probation Period?

The fact that you are on probation should not affect your annual leave and sick leave entitlements.

You are entitled to both annual leave and sick leave if you are covered by the Employment Act, and have worked for your employer for at least 3 months. However, if the 3-month period has not lapsed, you will not be entitled to annual leave.

Other entitlements such as maternity protection (which includes maternity leave) will also continue to apply to female employees during the probation period, as long as the employee has worked for her employer for at least 3 months.

Leaving the Organisation During/After Probation

During the probation period

The employer is entitled to terminate your employment before the end of the probationary period. This can be done by:

  1. Giving the required notice as stated in the employment contract; or
  2. Paying salary in lieu of the notice period.

Similarly, the employee can leave the organisation upon serving notice or paying compensation in lieu of notice.

If your employment contract did not state a different notice period for your probation, your notice period will likely be the same during your probation and after your confirmation as a permanent employee.

At the end of the probation period 

At the end of the probation period, either you or your employer may terminate the employment if desired.

For example, your employer may wish to terminate your employment after probation for various reasons if they find your work unsatisfactory. On the other hand, you may wish to leave the organisation if you do not find the role a good fit for your skillset.

Terminating the employment can be done by:

  • You serving the required notice period stated in your employment contract;
  • Compensating the other party with salary in lieu of you serving out the notice period; or
  • Mutual agreement between the parties to waive the notice period.

If no notice period is stated in your employment contract, the notice period required will depend on your length of service:

Length of Service Notice Period
Less than 26 weeks 1 day
26 weeks to less than 2 years 1 week
2 years to less than 5 years 2 weeks
5 years or more 4 weeks

Can the Probation Period Be Extended?

Your employment contract may provide for the possible extension of your probation period. For example, your employer may choose to extend your probation period if they require more time to evaluate your job performance.

The period of extension may be stated expressly in the employment contract, or stated to be at your employer’s discretion.

Understanding your rights during the probation period in Singapore is important to ensure that your employer does not treat you in a way that is contrary to your entitlements. You may wish to contact our lawyers experienced in employment law for further advice pertaining to your rights during the probation period, or if you have any doubts on the probationary terms stated in your employment contract.