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Foreign construction workers in Singapore

There are now 1.32 million foreigners working in Singapore



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Foreign workers in the construction and marine sectors make up a majority of the 1.32 million foreign workers in Singapore.

This figure was revealed in a written statement by Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin in response to Nominated Member of Parliament Mary Liew. She was asking about the number of foreign workers in Singapore and their country of origin.

While the nationality data was not publicly available, Tan said when excluding foreign domestic workers, the total number of employed foreigners in Singapore came to 1,107,100.

He also provided the top 10 industries which employ foreign workers, as of December 2013. They are:

1. Construction
2. Building and Repairing of Ships and Boats (Marine)
3. Wholesale Trade
4. Food & Beverage Services
5. Professional Services
6. Transportation & Storage
7. Fabricated Metal Products, Machinery & Equipment
8. Petroleum, Chemical & Pharmaceutical Products
9. Administrative & Support Services
10. Electronic, Computer & Optical Products

Also read:Foreign workers want to remain in Singapore

In Parliament yesterday, Tan also addressed an issue raised by Zainal Sapari of the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC about the increase in the monthly qualifying salary of S Pass holders. Last month, the minimum salary was raised from $2,000 to $2,200, and the increase could be in the form of basic salary, allowances, or a combination of both.

Zainal said this was a concern for him as he was worried employers may increase workers’ flexible allowance without raising their basic wage.

We have heard employers asking us if it is possible to allow them to count variable allowances, bonuses and annual wage supplements as part of the qualifying salary. We have not done so because work pass eligibility has to be based on the consistent calibre of the worker, which should not vary from month to month. It is not practical to have a situation where a worker is eligible for S Pass in one month due to good performance, but whose pass needs to be revoked the following month because he has not accrued enough variable commissions or bonuses to qualify. This is why only salary components that are paid on a fixed monthly basis – whether it is basic salary or allowances – may be included in work pass eligibility criteria. – See more at: http://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/Pages/PQRepliesDetails.aspx?listid=204#sthash.QAZL5H5D.dpuf

“We have heard employers asking us if it is possible to allow them to count variable allowances, bonuses and annual wage supplements as part of the qualifying salary. We have not done so because work pass eligibility has to be based on the consistent calibre of the worker, which should not vary from month to month,” Tan responded.

“It is not practical to have a situation where a worker is eligible for S Pass in one month due to good performance, but whose pass needs to be revoked the following month because he has not accrued enough variable commissions or bonuses to qualify.

“This is why only salary components that are paid on a fixed monthly basis – whether it is basic salary or allowances – may be included in work pass eligibility criteria.”

He added the Ministry encourages employers to look at variable allowances, bonuses and commissions as an incentive for higher productivity and better performance.

“They can structure salaries such that S Pass holders commit to deliver certain minimum level of performance each month, and the associated bonus or commissions can be built in as a fixed allowance,” Tan said. “Variable allowances can be given in addition, for performance that exceeds the minimum level.”

Image: Shutterstock

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