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Workers earning up to S$1,400 should get wage raises of S$50 to S$70: National Wages Council

SINGAPORE — With the economy facing headwinds, employers have been urged to maintain the same level of wage increments for their low-wage earners this year, but to give the increments to more of such workers.

Workers earning up to S$1,400 should get wage raises of S$50 to S$70: National Wages Council

The National Wages Council recommended that employers give low-wage workers earning up to S$1,400 a built-in wage increase of S$50 to S$70 this year. Last year, it was for the increments to be given to workers earning up to S$1,300.

SINGAPORE — With the economy facing headwinds, employers have been urged to maintain the same level of wage increments for their low-wage earners this year, but to give the increments to more of such workers.

In its annual guidelines on Thursday (May 30), the National Wages Council (NWC) also recommended that employers offer structured training to their workers so that they remain employable.

WAGE RECOMMENDATIONS

  • The NWC recommended that employers give low-wage workers earning up to S$1,400 a built-in wage increase of S$50 to S$70 this year, the same range it suggested last year. However, it raised the wage threshold. Last year, the recommendation was for such increments to be given to workers earning up to S$1,300.

  • A one-off payment of S$200 to S$360 for low-wage workers employed by companies which recorded productivity growth last year. This is the second time that the NWC has recommended such a payment, though the range has dropped from last year’s recommendation of S$300 to S$600.

  • For low-wage workers earning more than S$1,400, the NWC recommends employers grant a reasonable pay bump and/or a one-off lump-sum payment “based on (their) skills and productivity”.

The council said that it raised the basic wage threshold as the proportion of full-time resident employees earning a basic monthly pay of S$1,300 is estimated to have dropped from 9.2 per cent in 2017 to 7.9 per cent last year.

The raised threshold will place another 22,000 full-time resident employees under the NWC guidelines, bringing the total number to about 154,000 workers.

All companies in the public and private sectors are encouraged to adopt the council’s wage guidelines, which are not legally binding.

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TRAINING FOR ALL WORKERS

The Ministry of Trade and Industry has forecast that Singapore’s economy will grow 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent this year, down from the 3.1 per cent expansion achieved last year. 

The NWC said that retraining and upskilling employees is the way for companies to not only protect themselves, but their employees from uncertain economic conditions.

It recommends that employers:

  • Offer structured training for their employees

  • Redesign jobs and train their employees to take on these roles.

  • Invest in training all employees in emerging skills to ensure those at risk of redundancy continue to be employable.

  • Tap government schemes to fund their training programmes.

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WHAT THEY SAY

Mr Aubeck Kam, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Manpower, said that the Government accepts the NWC’s guidelines and welcomes the focus on training.

“The recommendation that employers offer structured training to employees will require employers to be very clear on what skills are needed and to communicate that to their workforce. This will allow employees to confidently retrain, in the knowledge that the new skills they are seeking to acquire will be valued.”

Dr Robert Yap, president of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), said that these challenging times should be turned into an opportunity for companies to refocus on training.

“When there is a slow-down, this is the best opportunity to retrain. In a very fast-moving economy, there is little time to do so… (as) resources are so tight.”

Ms Noor Irdawaty, general secretary of the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union, said she is heartened that the salary threshold was increased to S$1,400, even though the quantum range of increase was the same as last year.

“While there was a reduction in the recommended one-off payment, I would urge companies to give the higher band where possible, especially for companies that do not give the 13th month bonus to their workers,” she said.

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