Expat pay package in Singapore for middle managers rose 6% to $325,000 in 2018: Survey

Expat pay packages in Singapore increased across the board in 2018, according to an annual survey by ECA International. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The average annual pay package for expatriate middle managers in Singapore rose by US$13,163 or 5.9 per cent in 2018 from a year ago to US$236,258 (S$325,000), which included an average cash salary of US$90,170, according to an annual survey by ECA International.

When considering the cost of an expat pay package, companies need to factor in three key elements: the cash salary, benefits - such as accommodation, international schools, utilities or cars - and tax, said ECA, which provides information and software for the management and assignment of employees globally.

Expat pay packages in Singapore increased across the board in 2018, with yearly salaries climbing by almost US$5,000 while benefits went up by US$6,400 on average, said Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International, in a press release on Tuesday.

The firm's MyExpatriate Market Pay survey tracks the pay levels of expats around the world, including information on benefits, allowances, salary calculation methods and tax treatment. The findings enable companies relocating staff to benchmark their expats' actual salaries against the market.

Singapore had the 19th highest pay packages globally and the 9th highest in Asia for mid-level expats last year, due to "minimal increases in personal tax and extremely low tax-related costs as compared to most other locations" in ECA's rankings, said Mr Quane.

"This is good news for companies with employees currently living in Singapore, as the relatively high cash salary and benefits and low taxes result in less expense for employers when relocating staff to the country," he added.

Elsewhere in the Asian region, Hong Kong dropped one place to 6th globally, and 4th in Asia, with the average expat pay package rising US$7,902 to US$276,417, including an average salary of US$86,984.

Hong Kong's increase was largely due to a yearly salary increase of around US$1,500 and a more than US$6,000 bump in benefits, including additional expenses such as school fees or transportation costs.

"The benefits offered … have always been high in Hong Kong as the small nation continues to be attractive to companies and expatriates alike. Such high costs in expatriate-level accommodation, education in international schools and other expenses result in Hong Kong being significantly more expensive than most other locations," Mr Quane said.

Meanwhile, Japan is no longer the most expensive location in the world to send expats, after being overtaken in the rankings by the United Kingdom.

Japan has dropped to second place globally, despite an increase of more than US$30,000 to its average expat pay package.

In China, package levels saw a significant rebound in 2018, after falling in 2017. China-based expats took home US$310,204 last year, which was an increase of over $33,000 from in 2017. This pushed China up one place in the rankings to the third position, globally.

The UK now takes the top spot in the world, primarily due to a 25 per cent jump in the value of benefits.

Said Mr Quane: "Although the average UK expat salary rose by US$3,717, the overall increase in the value of an expat pay package jumped by over US$77,000 from 2017, with the cost of both benefits and personal tax rates rising by markedly large levels. The rise in accommodation costs was mainly responsible, due to an increase in housing and rental prices throughout the UK."

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