Public holidays in Singapore
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (January 2015)|
There are eleven public holidays in Singapore: Chinese New Year (two days), the Buddhist holiday of Vesak Day (one day), the two Islamic holidays of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (1 Syawal) and Hari Raya Aidil Adha (10 Zulhijah), the Hindu holiday of Deepavali (one day), the two Christian holidays of Good Friday and Christmas Day (25 December), and the secular holidays of New Year's Day, Labour Day and National Day. These public holidays have been recognised since Singapore's 1968 Employment Act.
Under Section 35 of the Parliamentary Elections Act and Section 17 of the Presidential Elections Act, Polling Day (for a general election or a presidential election) is a public holiday. By-elections are not covered under the act. As per public holidays falling on a Saturday, under the Employment Act, employees not required to work on that day are entitled to one day off in lieu or be given one day's pay.
The days observed as general public holidays in Singapore are declared in the schedule to the Holidays Act. According to the Ministry of Manpower, which issues a yearly list of the dates on which public holidays fall, the holidays were "chosen and agreed upon after close consultation with different community and religious leaders in Singapore". Other factors taken into account were the impact on business costs and statutory leave provided for under the Employment Act. Thus, some religious holidays such as Easter Monday, Mawlid (the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad) and Thaipusam were removed from the list of public holidays to improve business competitiveness.
There are generally 11 public holidays a year. However, due to the differences between the Islamic calendar and the Gregorian calendar, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri and Hari Raya Aidil Adha are respectively celebrated twice in a Gregorian calendar year every 32 or 33 years. This occurred in 1968 and 2000 for Hari Raya Puasa as well as 1974 and 2006 for Hari Raya Haji, giving Singaporeans 12 public holidays in those years.
If any public holiday falls on a Sunday in Singapore, the following day is declared to be a public holiday if it is not itself already a public holiday. Thus, since National Day (9 August) in 2015 landed on a Sunday, two additional holidays were given (on August 7 and August 10). The president is empowered to declare any day to be observed as a public holiday in addition to or substitution for any day specified in the schedule to the Holidays Act, and may also declare any day in a year to be observed as an additional public holiday when in that year two public holidays fall on the same day.
It is legal for employers to agree to give their employees other holidays in substitution for one or more public holidays. No act or thing relating to any government department or public authority, any judicial proceeding, any transaction, instrument or any other act or thing is rendered invalid where it is done or executed on a Sunday or public holiday.
Under the Employment Act, an employee who is required to work on a public holiday is entitled to an extra day's salary at the basic rate of pay, in addition to the gross rate of pay for that holiday.
In September 2009, a campaign by Zuji, an online travel agent, resulted in 5,616 people voting for another public holiday. One of the reasons given by the company for organising the campaign was that well-rested employees are more productive.
Past public holidays
- "Public Holidays 2011".
- Holidays Act (Cap. 126, 1999 Rev. Ed.), s. 4(1).
- Jeanette Wang (26 October 2009), "Public holidays: How S'pore compares", The Straits Times: B19.
- Employment Act (Cap. 91, 2009 Rev. Ed.).
- Holidays Act, s. 4(2).
- Holidays Act, ss. 5(1) and (2).
- Holidays Act, s. 6.
- Holidays Act, s. 7.
- Employment Act (Cap. 91, 2009 Rev. Ed.)