Not all rosy with 5-day work week

When it was introduced in Singapore, the five-day work week brought a breath of fresh air to working Singaporeans who were previously struggling to find work-life balance.

Employees contracted on a 5½-day work week also benefited when their employers jumped on the bandwagon and all but did away with the Saturday work day. Some employers let their workers work one Saturday a month.

However, not all things are rosy as some employers hang on to the idea that their employees owe them the hours of work which were unfulfilled on the Saturdays they did not need to work. Their employees work beyond their official weekday work hours without being paid. These employees are told they need to offset the hours they otherwise had to fulfil on Saturdays.

Since these employers have granted Saturdays off to their employees, they should not go back on their word and disallow overtime claims for work chalked up beyond their weekday working hours. One should not give with one hand only to take back with the other.

The law appears to be unclear on what employers can or cannot do, so such practices prevail. Perhaps the Ministry of Manpower should clarify the rights of workers in this regard.

Raymond Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2018, with the headline 'Not all rosy with 5-day work week'. Print Edition | Subscribe