Cracking the Code: Key Employment Terms (KETs) in Singapore for Hassle-Free Hiring

Winnie Lu

Mar 15, 2024
Hiring in Singapore's ever-evolving landscape? Buckle up! Employment contracts are more than just formalities – they're legally binding agreements that protect both employers and employees. Overlooking crucial details can lead to costly misunderstandings down the line. That's why mastering Key Employment Terms (KETs) is a game-changer for HR pros and business owners alike.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll unravel the mysteries of KETs, equipping you with the knowledge to craft airtight employment contracts that align with Singapore's employment laws. Plus, we'll dish out insider tips on templates, working without contracts, and the dreaded penalties for early termination. Get ready to level up your hiring game!

What Are Key Employment Terms (KETs)?

KETs are the fundamental clauses that must be included in every employment contract, according to Singapore's Employment Act. Think of them as the building blocks that define the relationship between employer and employee. Neglecting to cover these essentials could land you in hot water, so pay close attention!

KETs Breakdown

Now that we've outlined the 10 essential KETs, let's dive deeper into each one. These clauses form the foundation of a comprehensive employment contract, but don't be afraid to customize them with additional terms tailored to your company's unique requirements and industry standards.

1. Full Name of Both Employer and Employee, Job Title, Duties, and Responsibilities

This section lays out the employee's role within the company, detailing their primary tasks and obligations. Clarity is key here, as ambiguity can lead to misunderstandings and disputes down the road.

2. Working Arrangements

Will the employee be working full-time, part-time, or on a contractual basis? This clause specifies the nature of their employment, including work hours, shift patterns, and any applicable overtime policies. 

3. Salary and Remuneration

Money talks, and this KET covers the employee's salary period, basic salary, allowances, bonuses, OT rate of pay (A Comprehensive Guide to Calculate Overtime Pay in Singapore) and any other monetary benefits. And don’t forget the deduction! Clearly defining these terms prevents disagreements over compensation and ensures compliance with Singapore's employment regulations.

Clearly defining these terms prevents disagreements over compensation and ensures compliance with Singapore's employment regulations. (Photo:Karolina Grabowska)

4. Leave Entitlements

Vacation days, sick leave, and other types of approved absences should be outlined in detail. This section also covers rules surrounding public holidays and any applicable carry-over policies.

Learn more about leave entitlements:

5. Employee Benefits

Beyond salary, this section covers any additional perks the employee is entitled to, such as medical insurance, retirement contributions, or professional development opportunities.

6. Probation Period and Notice Period

Many companies have a probationary period for new hires. This KET specifies the duration, performance expectations, and any conditions surrounding the probation.

7. Workplace (Optional)

For businesses that have different work locations different from the employer’s address. Although optional, MoM strongly encourages you to include this info.

The KETs above are legal must-haves for Singapore contracts, but smart employers go the extra mile by considering these good-to-have terms tailored to their unique needs:

  • Workplace Policies: From dress codes to IT usage guidelines, this KET ensures employees are aware of and agree to follow your company's policies and procedures.
  • Termination Clauses: No one likes to think about it, but employment relationships can end. This KET spells out the notice periods, grounds for termination, and any penalties or compensation involved in an early departure.
  • Confidentiality and Non-Compete Agreements: Protecting your company's trade secrets and intellectual property is crucial. This clause outlines any confidentiality or non-compete agreements the employee must adhere to, both during and after their employment.
  • Governing Law: Last but not least, this clause specifies that the employment contract is governed by the laws of Singapore, ensuring compliance with local regulations.

Employment Contract Templates for Singapore

Crafting an employment contract from scratch can be a daunting task, especially if you're new to the process. Fortunately, there are plenty of reputable sources offering free and paid templates tailored specifically for Singapore's employment laws. For example, Singapore Ministry of Manpower's Contract Templates.

Using a vetted template as a starting point can save you time and ensure you don't overlook any crucial KETs or legal requirements.

Working Without an Employment Contract in Singapore

While having a comprehensive employment contract is highly recommended, it's not strictly required by law in Singapore for all employees. However, there are some significant risks and potential consequences to be aware of if you choose to forgo a written agreement:

  • Lack of clarity surrounding terms and conditions
  • Increased likelihood of disputes and misunderstandings
  • Difficulty enforcing any verbal agreements in court
  • Potential non-compliance with Singapore's employment laws

For these reasons, it's generally advisable to have a formal, legally binding contract in place – even for short-term or part-time employees. Doing so protects both parties and helps maintain a professional, transparent working relationship.

Employment contract can ensure both employer's and employee's right. (攝影師:Pixabay)

Penalties for Early Termination of Employment Contracts

Most employment contracts in Singapore include clauses outlining the consequences for early termination by either party. Depending on the specifics of your agreement, penalties could include:

  • Payment of wages in lieu of notice period
  • Forfeiture of any remaining salary or benefits
  • Financial penalties or "liquidated damages"
  • Non-compete or non-solicitation restrictions

It's crucial to carefully review and understand these clauses before signing, as the penalties for early termination can be quite severe in some cases. Additionally, Singapore's employment laws may entitle employees to certain protections or payouts upon termination, regardless of what's stated in the contract.


Navigating employment contracts and KETs in Singapore requires a deft hand and a deep understanding of local laws and best practices. By mastering these essentials, you'll be equipped to attract top talent, maintain compliance, and protect your company's interests.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Investing time and effort into airtight employment agreements upfront can save you from costly legal headaches down the road. So grab those templates, brush up on your KETs, and get ready to hire with confidence in the Lion City!


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