S'pore workers tipped to top region in variable pay
Chuang Peck Ming
Mon, Nov 12, 2007
The Business Times

(SINGAPORE) A bonus of 2.32 months' salary may not look impressive, but that's likely to be the largest variable payout for Asian workers in 2008 - and Singapore employees are the ones tipped to take home that big reward next year, according to a poll by HR Business Solutions.

At the same time, employers here are expected to hand out an average of 5.1 per cent increase in pay in the coming year, the highest in five years, says the regional human resource service firm.

The average pay hike was 3.3 per cent in 2004, 3.8 per cent in 2005, 4.1 per cent in 2006 and 4.8 per cent this year.

'Again, the financial services industry can expect the highest pay increase (next year) averaging 6.5 per cent,' says Elaine Ng, managing principal and director of HRBS.

'Employers are under tremendous pressure to adjust salary upwards in view of current full employment and strong demand for talent,' she says.

Inevitably, salary hikes will spill over into bonuses.

'While the average bonus is 2.32 months across industries, those in the (hot) financial sector can look forward to the highest bonus payout averaging 4.34 months,' Ms Ng says.

Employees at the management level are likely to be handed the largest bonus - 3.12 months, according to the poll. Production workers are expected to take home the smallest bonus of 1.4 months.

The average 2.32 months' bonus projected for Singapore employees in 2008, based on a poll of 23,491 employers in 18 locations in the region, works out to be 17.9 per cent of their annual fixed pay, including the annual wage supplement, or 13th month bonus.

Singapore employees already enjoyed the biggest variable bonus in 2007, but the 2008 bonus is expected to be bigger than the average 2.26 months they received this year.

'This is the highest across the Asia-Pacific region, including China and India,' Ms Ng says. 'Singapore's expected GDP growth for 2007 is the highest after China, India and Vietnam - and this is a good year for most companies with better return on profitability.'

An upbeat Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last month told the labour movement that Singapore is likely to wrap up the year with an economic growth at the higher end of the official forecast of 7-8 per cent.

'The Singapore economy has performed very well and the labour market is tight with domestic and regional demand pressures,' Ms Ng says.

Preliminary figures by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released late last month showed job creation continued to be strong in the July-September months, knocking the unemployment rate down to 1.7 per cent - the lowest in a decade.

After Singapore, Chinese workers are tipped to enjoy the biggest variable bonus payout (16.8 per cent of annual fixed pay) in the region in 2008, followed by Malaysian workers (16.6 per cent). Workers in India - which, together with China, is one of the two hottest Asian economies - are likely to enjoy bonuses averaging 14.8 per cent of fixed annual pay.

Workers in Sri Lanka are expected to be given the smallest bonus (10.3 per cent of annual fixed pay) in the region.


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