Payroll Concepts > Special Topics > National Service

Around the age of 18, every male citizen of Singapore is enrolled into National Service (NS) and undergoes a two-year military training period. Men who have completed their full-time NS become National Servicemen (NSmen). From here NSmen form the ranks of Singapore’s Operationally Ready National Servicemen (ORNS) abd are required to undergo regular ORNS  activities. Such employees are liable to be called up for a maximum of 40 days NS every year.

An employee may not be dismissed on account of being called up for NS. Employers are also required to grant NSmen a leave of absence to complete their annual NS, which will have an impact on their regular remuneration.

Please note: under the Enlistment Act, when an employee is away from work performing ORNS activities, CPF contributions are unaffected, and the full amount remains payable at the usual rate for the employee.

NSmen Payments

NSmen receive two types of NS pay during ORNS activities:

  • Service Pay – based on the NSman’s rank and vocation for the training. It will be pro-rated based on the duration of the ORNS activity in which the employee participates.
  • Make-Up Pay – any loss in civilian income suffered by an NSman is claimable as Make-Up Pay from the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Note: Make-Up Pay is claimable only if there is an overlap between the NSman’s civilian working hours and the NS training. Any loss of income suffered outside the duration of ORNS activities will not be compensated by MINDEF.

The two options for employed NSmen to claim Make-Up Pay are discussed below. For self-employed NSmen, please refer to NS Matters.

Direct Reimbursement to Employers of Claims for National Service Training (DIRECT)*

The employee continues to receive his usual salary from the employer in accordance with the ordinary pay schedule for the duration of his NS activities.

The employer then claims back from MINDEF, SPF or SCDF the amount of NS Pay to which the employee would be entitled. The employer will need to submit the employee’s Make-Up Pay claim at least 14 days before their ORNS activity in order for MINDEF to credit the employee’s Service Pay to the employer. If the Make-Up Pay claim is not submitted on time the Service Pay will be credited directly to the employee. The employer may then recover this amount from the employee.

Since you are continuing to pay the employee his usual salary, there are no changes required when processing payroll. There is currently no system leave type available for National Service, but you can create a custom leave type if you want to keep track of the leave days taken.

*Note: before you can file claims on behalf of your employees, you will need to register with the Direct Reimbursement to Employers of Claims for NS Training (DIRECT) scheme.

Payment to NSmen by MINDEF, SPF or SCDF

If an employer is not registered with the DIRECT scheme, either the employer or the employee will need to initiate the Make-Up Pay claim process. This can be done via Manage NSmen Payments on the NS Portal. The employer can certify an employee’s Make-Up Pay claim and submit it to MINDEF who will reimburse the employee directly. MINDEF, SPF or SCDF will credit the Service Pay directly to the employee.

Employers will need to deduct the Make-Up Pay amount from the employee’s salary. Make-Up Pay claims need to be submitted at least 2 weeks before the ORNS activity begins and within 3 months from the payment of Service Pay.

Variable income components such as transport or meal allowances can be claimed if they are:

  • Received on a regular basis for at least 4 out of the preceding 6 months before the ORNS activity
  • Taxable and subject to CPF contribution
  • Included in the employee’s employment or service contract

Before submitting a claim, please make sure you have all the necessary Supporting Documents.

Please note: the employer has to pay CPF contributions based on the wages given by the employer, together with the Make-Up Pay (i.e. loss in civilian income inclusive of variable wage components like overtime pay and commission) paid by MINDEF. The employer has to bear the full employer’s share of CPF contributions but can recover the full employee’s share from the employee’s wages.

As mentioned above, there is currently no system leave type for National Service; however, you can create a custom leave type.

For more information about National Service and CPF contributions for NSmen, please refer to the MINDEF website or the CPF Board website, respectively.

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