One in 4 firms pays NSmen more

Only one in four employers here pays male employees more for having completed full-time national service (NS), according to the results of a survey released yesterday.

This is similar to the findings from last year's edition of the survey.

The additional pay - built into employees' salaries - averages $185 a month, according to this year's poll by global management-consulting firm Hay Group.

The amount was $166 a month last year.

Mr Victor Chan, the group's regional general manager for Singapore and Asean for productised services, said the extra pay is meant to recognise the work experience gained from NS.

"This would (also) help male graduates to catch up with their female counterparts, who would have a two-year corporate-work experience advantage over them," he added.

Still, he noted that there are companies which pay male and female graduates the same wages.

Last year, Hay Group noted that it was common practice for public-sector organisations to give extra pay for completing NS.

But not all multinational companies practise this.

Mr David Ang, the Singapore Human Resources Institute's executive director, said this year's findings were "a bit surprising", as giving such premiums may give firms a competitive advantage.

While companies are not legally "required or obligated to pay such NS increments", they should bear in mind that potential employees may choose to go to other firms that do, he said.

Mr Josh Goh, assistant director of corporate services at human-resource consultancy The GMP Group, said that paying this premium has been "standard practice all this while", and should continue to be.

The Hay Group's poll, called the Fresh Graduate Pay Survey, surveyed 79 companies last month, across a gamut of industries ranging from engineering to finance and accounting.

Last year's survey polled 100 companies.

The latest poll also found that companies here are paying fresh graduates higher starting salaries this year, compared to last year.

This is despite sentiments that the global economy is slowing down.

In this year's survey, the average starting pay for diploma holders is $1,866 per month.

This is higher than the average starting salary of $1,799 a month last year.

This year, degree holders without honours get an average starting monthly pay of $2,678. Those with honours get an average starting salary of at least $2,766.

For those who have a degree without honours, jobs in the engineering field ranked tops, commanding the highest average starting salary of $2,777 a month.

For diploma holders, jobs in merchandise operations commanded the highest average starting salary of $1,934 per month.

vbarker@sph.com.sg


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