Salary increases of up to S$65 a month suggested for Singapore’s low-paid workers

Author: PM editorial | Date: 01 Jun 2016

National Wages Council’s recommendation is accepted by government

The National Wages Council (NWC) of Singapore has recommended a pay increase of S$50-S$65 for those earning a monthly salary of up to S$1,100.

Last year, a fixed raise of S$60 was suggested – but this ranged increase offers greater flexibility to employers to make a decision based on their outlook for the year. The government accepted the recommendation and the guidelines take effect for one year from 1 July.

Adding a note of caution, the NWC said: “Since the start of 2016, the global growth outlook has weakened, with growth for the full year now expected to be broadly similar to that in 2015.” It said that despite a “challenging business environment […] wage increases will need to be sustainable and fair: built in wage increases should be given in line with firms’ business prospects, while variable payments should reflect firms’ performance and workers’ contributions.

"The NWC welcomes the continued efforts by the government, union and employer groups to help low-wage workers raise their skills, employability and incomes. Employers are encouraged to continue tapping on programmes such as the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP), which shares productivity gains with low-wage workers, and the Workfare Training Support (WTS) Scheme, which funds skills upgrading."

Just 18 per cent of organisations who employ low-paid workers followed the NWC’s recommendation last year, down from the 31 per cent who followed the advice in 2014.

However, the number of employees in the low-pay bracket is also falling; last year the number of residents earning less than S$1,100 fell to 6.9 per cent from 8.2 per cent the previous year.

In a press conference, NWC chairman Peter Seah said the S$50-S$65 recommendation was only a rough guide and organisations should go higher if they want to. "It is to take into account affordability. Employers should give more if they can afford it," he said.