I am currently doing my internship. I am working office hours from 8:30am till 5:30pm.

My company doesn't pay any overtime pay. There have been two or so days where I was told that I needed to work late until 10pm or 11pm. I told my manager that I cannot work late, and he replied that is not acceptable as it's a crucial week. We are doing a project which will go live for public use on a particular day. Those two days of overtime are a few days before the live day.

Is this considered to be normal, and what rights do I have as an intern?

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  • If you agree to stay late then will you be allowed to come in late the next day or week? – Brandin May 29 '18 at 10:18
  • Are there any other interns in your organisation? Are they also being asked to stay late? Be aware that you probably can refuse, but they probably can refuse to extend your probation. While it shouldn't happen, it's common enough for deadlines to require an extra push if they can't be moved. Good employers will give you back the extra time in lieu if you have had to work extra to meet a deadline. – Jane S May 29 '18 at 10:30
  • @Brandin I did not agree to it tho. I didnt ask about coming in late the next day. Less likely hood will i be allowed to come late. – MrGonzalez May 29 '18 at 10:39
  • @JaneS noope. just me alone. I tried to say that i cant stay late tho. but seems that im still needed to stay and work late – MrGonzalez May 29 '18 at 10:40
  • @MrGonzalez Please be next to other users – Donald May 30 '18 at 23:00

Sorry, working overtime in highly competitive places like Singapore is very common. You are not alone as many Asian cities like Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan are like that.

There is nothing suspicious in your question. Working until the next day is not unusual, something that the Europeans here don’t understand. It’s part of the Asian working culture.

You are expected to work as long as your body can physical capable of. It will get better once you move into more senior position. Unfortunately, if you don’t obey you are not considered as employable.

For your records, my Asian friends would frequently work until 3 or 4 am just before the deadline. Your situation is not as bad as you might think.

The Singapore law allows you to say NO. You don’t have to work overtime if you really insist. But ... prepare for pressure, revenge and anger from your team as you're breaking the working culture and trust.

It’s bad if you are the only one leaving home early when the whole team stay late. Again, working late is absolutely expected in Asia.


  • Obey
  • Leave the company
  • Put the company to court

There is no point to talk to your boss again, as you've already done. It's not going to help.

  • What happens after 4 am? Sleep in the office until your next shift begins? What about showering, etc.? – Brandin May 29 '18 at 11:56
  • @Brandin take shower in office? Sleep a few hours home then come back. It’s very common. Google Asia working culture. – SmallChess May 29 '18 at 11:57
  • @Brandin sleep, wake up and go to work at te same time i guess – MrGonzalez May 29 '18 at 12:45
  • 1
    @Brandin, I have seen people in Tokyo sleeping on their desk before a deadline to save time from commuting back home. And you can wash in the office toilets. You can easily carry a sleeping bag with you in the office if needed, or use the cozy meeting rooms. – L.Dutch May 30 '18 at 5:59

Based on the culture in Asia, working late is often expected. It really comes down to if you are planning on working at that company in the future. If you don't really care about this company then by all means you can go home at the time you want.

Even while saying that, you could be able to convince your boss depending on your explanation of why you cannot work late. If there is a medical need or something along those lines, you may be approved.


I only have one question, is it paid internship ? If not tell them to back off as you said you'll be living soon. If it is paid then tell them that you won't work if unpaid as it's the rule, you work for them, they pay you for the work you've done, period. I think that being an intern is not really relevant here.

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