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Key recommendations for HR to note: New NWC Guidelines 2019/2020



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Singapore’s government has accepted the National Wages Council (NWC) Guidelines for 2019/2020.

In a press release yesterday (30 May), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the government “welcomes the stronger emphasis placed on employer-led training this year, and agrees that training is key to continued productivity gains and sustainable wage growth.”

Hence, the government supports the NWC’s recommendations for employers to:

  • Offer structured training to their employees based on current and future business requirements;
  • Continue implementing productivity initiatives, and work towards better wages and skills; and
  • With respect to unionised companies and NTUC-e2i partners, establish Company Training Committees and build up their in-house workplace learning capabilities.

The key recommendations of the NWC Guidelines  for 2019/2020 are detailed below:

Wage recommendations for all workers

The NWC states that wage increases could be commensurate with the employers’ perfomance, productivity gains and employees’ contributions, in order to be sustainable and fair.

Further, with productivity growth having moderated from 3.9% in 2017 to 2.4% in 2018, the NWC iterated the importance of continuing to encourage employers and employees to increase productivity.

Thus, as with last year, it recommends that all employers who have achieved productivity improvements in 2018 should share these gains with employees through a one-off payment.

Wage recommendations for low-wage workers

The NWC will raise the basic wage threshold for low-wage workers from S$1,300 to S$1,400, in a move to cover more employees within the quantitative guidelines. Last year, the proportion of full-time resident employees earning a basic monthly salary of up to S1,300 was about 7.9%, down from 9.2% in 2017.

In line with this, the NWC recommends the following:

  • A built-in wage increase of between S$50 and S$70 to be granted to low-wage workers earning a basic monthly pay of up to S$1,400.
  • A “reasonable wage increase” and/or a one-off lump sum granted to to these workers, based on skills and productivity.
  • For employers that achieved productivity gains in 2018, to provide a one-off payment of between S$200 and S$300.

Implementations of these guidelines

The new NWC Guidelines for 2019/2020 will commence on 1 July 2019 through to 30 June 2020.

It will apply to all employees (professionals, managers, executives, technicians and rank-and-file employees) in unionised and non-unionised firms across the public and private sector, as well as workers who have been reemployed.

In order to facilitate the wage negotiations, the NWC urges employers to share relevant information such as company wage information, business performance and prospects with the unions.

“The NWC encourages employers that encounter difficulties in implementing the guidelines to work with the employers’ associations and unions, to address the issues,” the guidelines state.

View the accompanying infographic below.

Priya-May-2019-NWC-Infographic-screengrab

Lead photo / 123RF
Infographic / NWC 2019/2020 Guidelines

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