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Hi,

I have been offered a job in a private school in Singapore as an ESL teacher. The contract is for two years. The penalty of breaking the contract before the two years is up is two month’s salary. I wondered if anyone knew if this was common practice in Singapore?

Many thanks! :)

Nic
 

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Hi,

I have been offered a job in a private school in Singapore as an ESL teacher. The contract is for two years. The penalty of breaking the contract before the two years is up is two month’s salary. I wondered if anyone knew if this was common practice in Singapore?

Many thanks! :)

Nic
Unsure from where I am. But had a thought also. If they can fine you for an early break from the contract, they may also withhold your salary until the third month to insure they have that two months pay if you should decide to leave.
They do some strange things in some of these countries. Another thing to watch out for is they could demand to hold your passport while you are working there. Many countries do that to overseas workers. It is against the law and I would refuse--no matter what.
 

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Hiya

Thanks - that is a good point re: having to wait two months before they pay for the last month! I may try and negotiate it to one months. Two months seems ridiculous!

Thanks for the note re: passport being withheld; that is really sad when that happens. There has been no mention of this so far but I will double check.

Have a good day : )

Many thanks!

Nic
 

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The Employment Act and Foreign Workers Act are the two principle laws governing employer-employee relationships in Singapore. What you describe (two months penalty) probably violates either or both acts, though you should do some research on that.

If you're covered by the Employment Act then your employment contract will have a notice period. I believe the notice period cannot be longer than one month. If either party terminates the employment contract early, and without adequate notice, then the maximum loss is equal to that notice period. For example, if you fail to provide one month notice to your employer that you are ending your employment you are subject to loss of up to one month of salary (in practice your final salary payment) -- no more.

Employers are in some cases required to withhold salary for tax clearance, but that's not money they can keep. That's to settle any potential outstanding Singapore income tax with IRAS.

Unless you're a very highly compensated employee (and perhaps not even then) that two month penalty sounds very improper to me, especially if it's a two month penalty regardless of whether you provide adequate notice or not. Yes, i have seen employers put terms and conditions in employment agreements that are illegal under Singapore law.
 

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As far as I know, the Emaployment Act (the only law governing work contracts and conditions) in Singapore, covers employees earning up to S$2500/month (and in certain professions - teaching NOT among them - S$4500/month).
For all others, the written contract governs all aspects of the legal relationship and almost anything that is mutually agreed upon is allowed.
Your termination and penalty clause is not uncommon and probably enforceable.
In any case you should only sign what you agree with..
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The Employment Act and Foreign Workers Act are the two principle laws governing employer-employee relationships in Singapore. What you describe (two months penalty) probably violates either or both acts, though you should do some research on that.

If you're covered by the Employment Act then your employment contract will have a notice period. I believe the notice period cannot be longer than one month. If either party terminates the employment contract early, and without adequate notice, then the maximum loss is equal to that notice period. For example, if you fail to provide one month notice to your employer that you are ending your employment you are subject to loss of up to one month of salary (in practice your final salary payment) -- no more.

Employers are in some cases required to withhold salary for tax clearance, but that's not money they can keep. That's to settle any potential outstanding Singapore income tax with IRAS.

Unless you're a very highly compensated employee (and perhaps not even then) that two month penalty sounds very improper to me, especially if it's a two month penalty regardless of whether you provide adequate notice or not. Yes, i have seen employers put terms and conditions in employment agreements that are illegal under Singapore law.
Hi there

Thanks so much for your reply and so sorry not to have replied earlier. I have turned the job down; I have heard a mixture of things as to whether it was legal; but I suspect as you say it is. In my view it is not very ethical and so I have declined. Thanks for your help - I think it definitely helped me make the right decision.

Have a good day :)
 

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Unsure from where I am. But had a thought also. If they can fine you for an early break from the contract, they may also withhold your salary until the third month to insure they have that two months pay if you should decide to leave.
They do some strange things in some of these countries. Another thing to watch out for is they could demand to hold your passport while you are working there. Many countries do that to overseas workers. It is against the law and I would refuse--no matter what.
Singapore companies don't practice holding the passport or withholding pay, except a percentage of pay for income tax liabilities or last month pay when the person leaves, to clear income tax.

as for penalty most jobs have such clause especially if the employer needs to expose the candidate to proprietary systems/solutions/methods etc, not to see their investment walk out after leaning ...

ethical? seriously?

if you want to talk ethics what is the ethical meaning of learning something and leaving for a better pay or walking out?

companies aren't charities

those who you claim to be ethical mostly aren't ... even the likes of apple dont make profit to their shareholders if they dont employ cheap labour...for a start ...

BBCWatcher, notice period can extend up to 6 months but the employer has to justify .. like if the person is, as i said above, given specialized training or exposed to proprietary solutions.

and the law says either party must compensate if unable to fulfill the notice period ...
 
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