NodeFlair Explains: Laid off in Singapore? Know your rights!


Losing a job is never easy, but being laid off can be particularly stressful.

If you find yourself in this situation in Singapore, it's important to understand your rights and entitlements.

In this blogpost, we provide a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process and protect your interests. From understanding the terms of your employment contract to knowing what compensation you may be entitled to; this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and take action.

How much salary am I entitled to when I get laid off?

When you are laid off in Singapore, you should be entitled to salary up to your last day of employment, which depends on your notice period (more about it in subsequent section).

Also, according to Ministry of Manpower (MoM), only employees who have been with the company for at least 2 years are eligible for retrenchment benefit.

The prevailing norm is to pay a retrenchment benefit of between 2 weeks to 1 month salary per year of service. So, for example, if you have 8 years of service, you might be entitled to 8 months' worth of salary in retrenchment benefits.

Those who have worked for a shorter period could be granted voluntary goodwill payment.

Once the payment has been determined, you should receive your salary until your last day of work or when the notice period ends (whichever is later). Your employer should also provide you with an official letter confirming your entitlements in writing.

What happens to my Stock Options (ESOP) or Restricted Stock Unit (RSU)?

One of the first questions that may pop into your mind when you're preparing for a layoff is, "What happens to my ESOP when I get laid off?"

The answers might depend on the company and the type of ESOP they offer.

Generally, there are various policies that many companies in Singapore adopt, such as allowing employees to keep a certain percentage of their vested ESOPs when they get laid off.

However, the exact terms can vary from company to company and may include a vesting schedule, limitations on how much an employee can be paid out in cash after a layoff, or other restrictions.

It's also important to note that some companies do not allow employees to cash out their ESOPs if they get laid off. The only way to eventually cash them out is when a liquidation event happens.

Regardless, understanding all the different factors associated with your ESOP can go a long way towards helping you plan for any eventuality during a layoff scenario. Also, with falling tech valuations across South-east Asia, it's no wonder that ESOPs have lost some of their attractiveness for startup employees.

What happens to my remaining leaves?

You may be wondering, what happens to my leftover annual leaves when I get laid off?

Quick answer: you can either get paid out for it or use it up before you go.

If you do decide to cash out your leave, the amount you get should be calculated based on your total salary before any deductions.

But what are some common practices being used in other companies?

Usually, companies will pay out for any remaining vacation days after an employee has been laid off, so you should always check your company's policy.

How long is my notice period?

When your employment is terminated, the notice duration should be in accordance with the contractual terms in the employment contract.

However, in the unlikely event that the notice period is not stated in the employment agreement, here’s how long you’ll need to give according to the MoM:

  • 1 day notice for employees with less than 26 weeks of service
  • 1 week notice for employees with 26 weeks or more but less than 2 years' service
  • 2 weeks' notice for employees whose service is 2 years but less than 5 years
  • 4 weeks' notice for employees whose services is 5 years or more

Keep in mind that notice can be waived by mutual consent between you and your employer, so be careful to read any documented by the company before agreeing to it.

Can I start work at another company while serving my notice?

So, if you've given your notice, you're technically not allowed to start work at another company, as you are still working for your current employer until your last day.

But don't worry, there's still a chance you can start your new gig before then! Just make sure to double-check with your current employer to see if it's all good.

For example, you can also use your annual leave to offset the notice period in exchange for bringing forward your last day of employment. In this case, you would only be paid up to your last day of work, but that also means that after your last day, you can start work immediately with your new company.

What if I am on an EP (Employment Pass) or S-Pass?

If you were on an Employment Pass (EP) or S-Pass before your layoff, there are a few things you should know.

First, bear in mind that your EP will be canceled immediately upon losing your job. This means that you will have to secure a new job and apply for a new EP within 30 days or risk being repatriated back to your country of origin - at your own expense.

Also, if you’ve been employed for less than 2 years and are suddenly laid off, do note that you are not legally entitled to retrenchment benefits. You can still submit an appeal with the MoM, but the success rate is often low.

Therefore, it is important to take advantage of this 30-day grace period. Don’t be too shy to ask around and network with contacts who may know of potential job openings; it’s important to consider all possibilities so as to reduce the time taken for employment approval.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that the employer is liable for any repatriation costs in this situation—so make sure you ask your company for assistance if needed!

In addition, if applicable, there are some resources available that may help you with visa costs and other related expenses through the Ministry of Manpower’s EP/S-Pass Insurance Scheme and/or various employment agencies.

How can I dispute my retrenchment benefits?

To resolve a dispute over retrenchment benefits, employees should first speak to their employer and seek assistance from the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management. If necessary, they can file a claim with the Employment Claims Tribunals or raise the issue with the Ministry of Manpower.

However, the employer cannot be forced to pay benefits that are not legally required. Retrenched workers can try to challenge the decision under the wrongful dismissal regime or breach of contract, but these options may be time-consuming and expensive.

Overall, employees in Singapore depend on employers to do the right thing in terms of retrenchment benefits.

Layoff can be tough, but we are here to help

In conclusion, being laid off is a challenging experience that can leave you feeling vulnerable and uncertain about the future.

However, by understanding your rights as an employee in Singapore, you can take steps to protect yourself and your interests during this difficult time. NodeFlair hopes that this article has been helpful in providing you with the information you need to navigate the process with confidence.

If you're currently looking for new job opportunities, we invite you to check out NodeFlair Jobs. Our platform offers a wide range of job postings in the tech industry, connecting talented professionals with some of the best companies in Singapore and beyond!

All the best!

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