Expatriate pay package in Singapore inches up; 7th highest in Asia-Pacific

Lunchtime crowd crossing Robinson Road in the CBD area on Aug 10, 2011. Expatriate pay packages in Singapore now rank seventh highest across the Asia-Pacific region, according to an annual study by human resources firm ECA International. -- PHOTO: ST
Lunchtime crowd crossing Robinson Road in the CBD area on Aug 10, 2011. Expatriate pay packages in Singapore now rank seventh highest across the Asia-Pacific region, according to an annual study by human resources firm ECA International. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Expatriate pay packages in Singapore now rank seventh highest across the Asia-Pacific region, according to an annual study by human resources firm ECA International.

This is down from its sixth position last year, although the cost of a package - which usually comprises the cash salary, benefits (such as accommodation, international schools, utilities or cars) and tax - has risen over the past 12 months.

A typical total expatriate package for middle managers in Singapore is worth about US$259,000 today, compared to US$257,000 in the 2014 study.

The survey listed Japan as home to Asia's highest expatriate packages, with a package for an expatriate middle manager worth US$375,000. It was followed by Australia, India, and China.

Singapore's expatriate packages are still lower than in Hong Kong, which came in fifth.

"The cost of providing certain benefits such as housing and education is the most expensive element of the pay package when relocating staff to Singapore," noted Mr Lee Quane, regional director of Asia at ECA International.

He said that while the rising cost of an expatriate package in Singapore will make some companies "think twice" about where they should set up within the region, the country still has a reputation for providing an excellent quality of life - "a big plus in terms of motivating employees to accept an assignment (here)".

"Furthermore, there are ways in which companies can contain costs - we see many revising housing allowances down or using an approach based around local salaries topped up with additional benefits rather than using the employee's salary at home as a starting point."

More than 320 companies across 167 countries took part in the survey, which aims to look at pay levels for expatriates around the world, and assist companies relocating staff with benchmarking their packages against the market.

Malaysia has the second lowest expatriate packages in the list, after Thailand.