Progressive wage model for the retail sector under study
SINGAPORE – The Government is studying how to implement the progressive wage model (PWM) for the retail sector, which could see the incomes of low-wage workers in retail rise in tandem with their skills and productivity.
Salespeople and cashiers in supermarkets, convenience stores and fashion outlets can benefit from this move, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said on Tuesday (Feb 23).
When asked whether the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers – which he chairs – had a timeline for its study, Mr Zaqy would only say that it hoped to provide an update soon.
Mr Zaqy, who was speaking to the media after a visit to the Adidas store at Jewel Changi Airport to better understand the issue, was also unable to say how many workers in the retail sector could benefit.
About 45 per cent of resident full-time employees in the retail sector receive salaries that are at or below the bottom 20th wage percentile of the local workforce.
In his Budget speech on Feb 16, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the Government’s aspiration is for every sector of the economy to have some form of progressive wages.
Mr Zaqy on Tuesday noted that the retail sector, which is among those employing the highest numbers of lower-wage workers, is a diverse one, with businesses ranging from sporting goods stores to supermarkets, convenience stores and fashion outlets.
Businesses that are tourist-driven may be harder hit by the Covid-19 pandemic while those in the heartland are doing better.
“Some, like supermarkets, were doing very well in the early parts of the pandemic. So we have to look at different sub-sectors and look at the varied recovery (processes),” he said.
Mr Zaqy also said that the workgroup would have to study how to include e-commerce players in their discussions and how to regulate the retail sector which is unlicensed.
First introduced in 2012, the PWM sets out minimum salaries for local workers in various roles along a career and skills progression framework. It also outlines the career progression pathway for workers in a sector.
Since it was formed in October last year, the tripartite group has been studying various sectors that could potentially implement PWMs. The group comprises industry leaders from the Singapore National Employers Federation, union leaders and senior civil servants.
Discussions are also ongoing in the waste management and food services sector. Mr Zaqy visited a Jumbo Seafood outlet in Boat Quay earlier this month.
NTUC has been pushing for a PWM in food services since 2018.
If the PWM is implemented in food services and retail sectors, some 70,000 workers could benefit.
The tripartite workgroup aims to provide an interim update by the middle of this year and complete its work by the first quarter of next year.
Currently, the PWM is mandatory in the cleaning, landscaping and security sectors, covering some 80,000 workers. It will become mandatory for the lift and escalator maintenance sector next year.
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