SALARY CEILING TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR PROTECTION UNDER EMPLOYMENT ACT MAY BE RAISED FOR PMES – Lianhe Zaobao, 21 May 2012
In an interview with Lianhe Zaobao, Tan Chuan-Jin said that the labour movement is exploring how to look after more PMEs and the degree to which it can protect them. Under the current Employment Act, those who make less than $4,500 are given a certain level of protection. However, with an increase in the number of PMEs, this is something that we need to review.
With the number of professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) in Singapore rising, the Ministry of Manpower may raise the wage ceiling for employees eligible for protection under the Employment Act when it reviews the legislation this year to ensure that it remains up-to-date.
The last amendment to the Employment Act was carried out in 2008, during which the wage ceiling was raised from $2,500 to $4,500.
Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin said in an interview with Lianhe Zaobao that the work scope of the Manpower Ministry includes ensuring the continued vibrant development of the labour market and providing employment opportunities for different sectors and at different levels. This includes the growing professionals, managers and executives (PME) segment.
He said: “The labour movement is exploring how to look after more PMEs and the degree to which it can protect them. Under the current Employment Act, those who make less than $4,500 are given a certain level of protection. However, with an increase in the number of PMEs, this is something that we need to review.”
Under current legislation, executives making less than $4,500 only have legal protection when it comes to salary matters. They are not protected in other areas such as annual leave, medical benefits and working hours.
Mr Tan believes that the greatest challenge faced by PMEs is how to ensure that the skills they possess can stand up to economic and market changes. In fact, there are an increasing number of continuing education and training (CET) programmes catering to this group.
Not only does this assure their employability but it also benefits the entire economy.
“Ensuring mobility for PMEs will make the entire economy more vibrant as companies will know that they will not face structural impediments and will be able to make changes at any time. Ultimately, this will strengthen the attractiveness of Singapore and help retain jobs. ”
In Europe, continuing economic and political problems have led to tens of thousands of young people not being able to find jobs after graduation, becoming a “lost generation” at a loss about their future. Singapore is seeing an increasing number of university graduates each year and this group of young PMEs is filled with expectations about their future. Mr Tan therefore stressed that this is why it is important to ensure continued economic growth so that more jobs can be created for Singaporeans.
Singapore saw a 3.2% unemployment rate among citizens in the first quarter of the year, a slight increase of 0.2% from the end of last year. Approximately 50,000 Singaporeans are jobless. As defined by experts, this constitutes full employment in the labour market.
However, Mr Tan has not let up on his efforts. During the course of the interview, he regularly cited examples from the lives of the residents in his Kembangan-Chai Chee ward to illustrate how national issues impact their lives.
He said: “A 3.2% unemployment rate means that there are around 50,000 people who have no jobs. However, they are not just digits; they have families, too. When I look at my residents, I think about the fact that if the unemployed individual is the sole breadwinner of the family, then the impact extends beyond just the jobless person alone. “
Lim Meow Nar
In my earlier speech during the COS, I had also touched on initiatives to help PMEs. (paras 23-34)