Bosses doing more to attract part-timers

Employers facing manpower crunch give bonuses and other perks to show staff they are valued

NUS undergraduates Jonathan Seah, 24, and Liew Ying Ying, 21, are part of a pool of 10 regular part-timers working for Rasel catering. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
NUS undergraduates Jonathan Seah, 24, and Liew Ying Ying, 21, are part of a pool of 10 regular part-timers working for Rasel catering. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Companies faced with a manpower crunch are offering bonuses, medical benefits and even supermarket vouchers to attract and retain part-time workers.

They are competing to hire students, housewives and older people to help make up for foreign workers who have become costlier to hire since the Government raised levies and imposed higher salary criteria for foreigners to qualify for work passes.

The past year has also seen the average hourly rate for part-time work rise from around $6.50 to $9, recruitment experts told The Sunday Times. It has even hit $10 in industries such as food and beverage and telephone customer support, which are highly dependent on foreign workers.

Part-timers work less than 35 hours a week and are entitled by law to rest days, overtime pay and pro-rated leave. But several firms told The Sunday Times they are doing even more.

Delivery firm Network Courier extends full-time benefits, such as performance bonuses and reimbursement of medical bills, to part-timers. "We want all our workers, part- or full-time, to feel they're part of the company," said managing director V.S. Kumar.

Coffee and toast chain Ya Kun Kaya Toast executive chairman Adrin Loi agrees it is important to make part-timers feel they belong.

His company offers them Chinese New Year hongbao, performance bonuses and salary increments. They are also invited to the annual company dinner. "Part-timers work hard too,"said Mr Loi.

Catering company Rasel pays its part-time service crew about $12 an hour - above the industry norm. Its pool of about 10 regular part-timers, mostly students, get taxi fare reimbursements, and chartered coaches send them to MRT stations after work.

Said the firm's managing director, Mr Alan Tan: "Paying good salaries is the main reason why our part-timers stay and even recommend friends."

Property valuation firm GSK Global Eric Tan wants his employees to see a future in his company. He sends both full-time and part-time staff for training and pays for their exam fees.

"I want them to know I am investing in them."

With more firms making ad-hoc work attractive, human resource experts expect more students, housewives and retirees to join the part-time workforce.

The number of local part-timers rose to 205,000 last year from 196,800 in 2012, based on Manpower Ministry statistics.

But there remains an untapped pool of 375,000 women and older people. The Singapore National Employers Federation said last week that these people can be coaxed to re-join the workforce through flexible work arrangements.

Singapore Human Resources Institute chief Erman Tan agreed that employers need to work around the schedules of housewives and the elderly, many of whom may have family commitments.

Madam Chow Siew Lan, a 70-year-old who has worked as a dishwasher at Ya Kun for a decade, said: "I got a one-month bonus last year. That made me happy because it showed that the company appreciated my work."

University student Jonathan Seah, 24, earns about $400 a month as a part-time waiter with Rasel. That covers his pocket money and he can treat his father, a dishwasher, to dinner each month too. "It feels good to be financially independent," he said.