From The Straits Times    |


Same s**t, different week? If you’ve been dreading your Mondays to Fridays lately, it’s time to bone up on some facts about Singapore’s workforce and strategise to make the changes work for you.

While some long standing issues remain – longer hours, unequal pay, employee rights – it’s not all doom and gloom. Read on and get savvy about your working rights.


1. Women still earn less than men – but here’s some context


Bad news: We’ve not fully broken through the glass ceiling just yet. A study by jobs website Glassdoor found that Singapore women earn about 13 per cent less than men. However, when other factors such as ages, job titles, employers and locations were taken into account, the gap fell to 5.2 per cent, which is on par with countries such as the United States and United Kingdom.

In an ideal world, pay parity should be automatic, till then it’s encouraging to see more companies and leaders striving to properly recognise its female workforce. For a start, according to consumer research firm Value Champion, the proportion of board seats held by women has doubled to 15.2 per cent in 2018, compared to 7.5 per cent in 2013.

So with more women at the top, we can only hope to see a trickle down effect.


2. A bonus could be on the way


Don’t get too excited just yet but the National Wage Council has just proposed that companies who report productivity gains in the previous year give its low wage workers a one-off bonus of $300 and $600, be it in a lump sum or in multiple payments.

While there’s no confirmation on this as yet, it’s a conversation that’s happening and could have a knock-on effect for all of us.


3. Employees can now challenge wrongful dismissal cases


The ball is no longer only in the employer’s court. With new tripartite guidelines outlined in April 2019, there’s now clear illustrations on what constitutes wrongful dismissal, including cases that involved discrimination (racial or otherwise), punishing an employee for exercising an employment right (for instance refusing to work overtime), false reasons and attempting to dodge paying maternity benefits.

So if you think you’ve been wrongfully dismissed, the Employment Claims Tribunal will now hear your case, provided mediation is first sought from the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).


4. Money matters – but not as much as you would think


While we all work for a living, for some, money isn’t the end game to job satisfaction. A study by platform Qualtrics who surveyed 500 participants as part of a larger 6,000 global participant survey found that not receiving sufficient training to work more efficiently was a cause of job dissatisfaction amongst Singapore workers. Employees appreciate it when their managers invest in them, added the report.

So now you know, for your next annual review, ask your employee if he/she would like to attend a training course instead and who knows, you may retain him/her for longer.


5. Job hopping is not that uncommon


According to a report by, it’s become common these days to have a high employee turnover rate. A 2016 survey found that 51 per cent of the workers surveyed have only been with their employer for under two years. So unlike our parents time, the younger generation is no longer interested in lifetime employment but actively seeking job changes every two to three years – could this be you?

However, Qualtrics says employees are more likely to stay in their jobs longer if they are happy with their work-life balance.


6. Flexible work schemes are on the rise


That’s right, you could very soon be in a café sipping a cold brew while firing off emails. Not only have Singapore employees expressed the desire for more flexible arrangements, but more companies are starting to see the benefits as well.

In the Conditions of Employment Report released by the Manpower Ministry in January 2019, it was reported that 72 per cent of employees worked in companies that offered some form of flexibility, be it part-time work, flexible hours or tele-working — a two per cent increase from 2017.

Flexible forms of employment is good for the economy too. A study done by Regus, a global workspace provider found that the non-traditional working arrangement will contribute $54.8 billion to the Singapore economy by 2030, up from $27.3 billion currently. Not exactly chum change… where do we sign up?



7. You may retire later than you wish


For many, the 60s are seen as the decade to retire — perhaps in our parents time. A recent Business Timesreport stated how the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is exploring raising the retirement and re-employment ages to 65 and 70 respectively, up from 62 and 67 years old presently.

Along with that, they’re also looking into instilling measures to reinvent employment practices; to re-skill and redeploy so all workers can contribute in a productive manner.


8. There’s help available if you’re looking at a mid-career switch


It’s a real question and if you’ve not already pondered it, you might want to start. We’re not just talking about lawyers quitting to open bakeries, we’re talking about changing career tracts. Get started by checking with WSG about their Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) running from anywhere from three to 24 months.

There’s over 50 PCPs targeted at PMETs to undergo skills conversion and move into new occupations or sectors such as Communications Technology, Healthcare, Logistics, Food and Beverage, Biologics Manufacturing, and Early Childhood Care and Education.