Retail in Asia


Singapore retail staff to receive pay raise from Sep 1

Rank-and-file shop workers in Singapore will receive wage increases over three years under the Progressive Wage Model (PWM). Beginning September 1 of this year through August 31, 2025, these workers’ wages are expected to rise by 8.4 to 8.5 percent annually.

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For retail assistants, cashiers and assistant retail supervisors, the Tripartite Cluster for Retail Industry (TCR) announced this recommendation Monday (Aug 15). The minimum salary for retail assistants, for example, will be SGD 1,850 a month, excluding overtime, beginning September 1. TCR calculated this figure after consulting extensively and evaluating existing median wages.

Additionally, retail assistants will receive a minimum pay increase of 125 SGD from September 1 next year, and a second increase of SGD 200 from Sep 2024. It is a cumulative increase of 17.4 percent, or 8.4 percent compound annual growth rate.

Around 19,000 lower-wage workers will benefit from the reform, out of 46,000 full-time and part-time retail workers. TCR says that retail supervisors and managers’ wages are usually higher than the lowest 20th income percentile. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced this expansion of the PWM during last year’s National Day Rally.

In recent years, several measures have been implemented to improve the wages and working conditions of lower-wage workers. NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said that the unions will continue to listen to the needs of Singapore workers through its Every Worker Matters engagement initiative.“NTUC has been championing our lower-wage workers … they can look forward to annual growth rates in their salaries of up to 8.5 per cent over the next three years,” he said during his visit to an IUIGA retail outlet to meet the employees and learn more about their retail operations.

With its PWM recommendations, the tripartite cluster aims to raise the wages of retail workers and provide a clear career progression path for them, said TCR chair and NTUC U SME Director Yeo Wan Ling.

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“It would help them to grow along with the evolving retail industry, and help retail firms retain and attract new entrants,” said Pasir Ris-Punggol MP, who visited the IUIGA outlet.

Between September 1 and February 28, 2023, employers will have a six-month “run-in period” to become familiar with the new PWM requirements. To give employers flexibility in meeting the requirements, baseline gross wages will be averaged over three months due to seasonality in the retail sector.

All variable wages – including allowances, performance incentives, and commissions – can be incorporated into the stipulated gross wages, reported TCR. Employers may consider re-training their employees or redesigning their job roles if their wages don’t meet the PWM minimum due to a shortfall in variable components like commissions.

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The structure of their pay can also be revised – for example, by increasing the basic wage or allowance. A more structured career progression program and training requirements were also recommended by the tripartite cluster.

For all job roles under the PWM, workers must complete at least one Workforce Skills Qualifications module. In the retail sector, TCR has mapped out the operational and supervisory job roles to provide career progression paths.