SINGAPORE: The National Wages Council (NWC) has announced that starting December 1, 2021, workers with up to SGD2,000 (USD1,500) gross monthly income should receive an increase of SGD70 (USD52) to SGD90 (USD67).
The guidance is in line with the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers' recommendation that progressive wages for lower-wage workers be expressed in terms of the gross monthly wage, instead of the basic monthly wage. This is to assure workers more of the expected monthly wage for a set of standard working hours. The sum of the basic monthly wage, overtime payments, commissions, allowances, and other regular cash payments constitute gross monthly wage.
Labour chief Ng Chee Meng said that the recommendation would cover more workers.
The NWC also urged employers to provide a higher percentage wage hike for lower-income workers. Companies that are freezing wages or continuing to freeze wages should consider a built-in wage increase of up to SGD50 (USD37) for lower-wage workers. Those who are cutting wages further should freeze salaries instead.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) provides transitional support to help employers absorb part of the costs of the wage hikes.
In response, the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) said, "As many lower-wage workers are in essential roles such as cleaners and security officers, SNEF also urges service buyers and consumers to play their part in the whole of society effort to uplift the group by paying a reasonable price for better services."
Permanent Secretary for Manpower Aubeck Kam noted that the recommendations included leveraging the work pass system to ensure that foreign workers receive progressive pay and the homegrown workers, local appropriate salary.
Meanwhile, as the labour market improves, the MOM claimed fewer reductions in the third quarter and a rise in resident employment. In the third quarter, the total employment declined by 3,400, a far figure from the second quarter, when it fell by 16,300. Moreover, 2,000 retrenchments were recorded in the third quarter, versus the 2,340 in the second quarter.
Resident employment grew more quickly in industries, such as professional services, information and communications, and financial service.
The food and beverage services and retail trade cut down their resident workforce due to border restrictions and health measures in the third quarter.
Non-resident employment continues to contract across most sectors due to ongoing border restrictions.
Unemployment rates also fell with the overall rate at 2.6%, resident unemployment at 3.5%, and citizen unemployment at 3.7%.
However, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said, "We should also expect that industries and job roles will transform. Be prepared for these changes."
He called on companies to consider hiring mid-career workers who are looking for a career switch or workers open to reskilling and upskilling for new roles.