Lower-wage retail workers to get pay hikes from Sept 1

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SINGAPORE - About 19,000 full-time lower-wage retail workers who are Singaporeans or permanent residents can expect pay hikes of 8.4 per cent to 8.5 per cent annually over the next three years. 

Under the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the retail sector, retail assistants, cashiers and assistant retail supervisors will receive these increases from Sept 1 this year up to Aug 31, 2025.

From Sept 1, full-time retail assistants and cashiers in firms that also hire foreign workers will see their monthly gross salary rise to a minimum of $1,850, excluding overtime pay. This will rise to at least $1,975 next year, then no less than $2,175 in 2024.

Currently, the median gross salary of this group is about $1,850, which means half of them earn less than this.

Lower-wage part-time retail staff will see their hourly gross salary go up. For example, from Sept 1, assistant retail supervisors will get $11.75 per hour, rising to $12.56 from Sept 1 next year and $13.82 from Sept 1, 2024.

The wage increase was one of the recommendations announced by the Tripartite Cluster for Retail Industry (TCR) on Monday (Aug 15), which the Government later accepted.

Currently, about 46,000 full-time and part-time retail workers who are Singaporeans or permanent residents work in firms that also hire foreigners.

Among them, about 19,000 are lower-wage workers who will benefit from the PWM. 

The TCR said the wages of retail supervisors and managers are generally above the lowest 20th income percentile and so should be left to market forces.

The PWM helps to increase the wages of workers through the upgrading of skills and improving productivity. Introduced in 2012, it has been implemented in sectors such as cleaning, security, landscape as well as lift and escalator maintenance.

The Government will co-fund eligible salary increases under the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme to support employers in this transition.

In June, it said that the co-funding share this year will increase from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for resident employees with gross monthly salaries of up to $2,500. For salaries above $2,500 and up to $3,000, the co-funding will be raised from 30 per cent to 45 per cent.

The TCR said the wage model for retail will be reviewed in 2024.

Labour MP Yeo Wan Ling, who chaired the TCR, said it aims to uplift the wages of retail workers and provide them with a clear career progression pathway. 

“It would help them to grow along with the evolving retail industry, and help retail firms retain and attract new entrants,” said Ms Yeo, a Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP.

Some of TCR’s key considerations were poor job image and a lack of opportunities for progression, which have put off younger people from working in retail.

In announcing the Government's acceptance of the recommendations, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad described this as a “landmark” PWM.

The TCR also recommended minimum training requirements for all retail job roles under the PWM and a clear career progression pathway.

The retail PWM is a five-level career progression model which sees retail assistants and cashiers ultimately becoming retail managers.

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng (left) speaking with Iuiga retail supervisor Siti Suhaimah (right) during a store visit on Aug 15, 2022. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Employers have from Sept 1 this year to Feb 28 next year to adjust and comply with the requirements. After that, firms that hire foreign workers and do not follow the requirements for their Singaporean and PR workers could have their work pass privileges suspended.

Due to seasonal fluctuations in the industry, the TCR has also recommended a three-month averaging of PWM baseline gross salaries to give employers some flexibility in meeting the PWM requirements.

Ms Siti Suhaimah Sairi, 22, a retail supervisor at Iuiga, said she can save more money with the increase in salary to take her family on an overseas holiday.

  • Additional reporting by Anjali Raguraman

Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy.

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