Freeze wages of low-income earners instead of pay cuts, boost wages where possible, NWC urges employers

SINGAPORE – Employers resorting to wage cuts due to the downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic should instead implement a wage freeze for their low-wage workers.

Special consideration should be given to such workers during these challenging times, stressed the National Wages Council (NWC), in releasing an addendum to its guidelines on Friday (May 14).

Employers that have done well or are recovering from the pandemic can consider built-in wage increments to boost the wages of these workers, it added.

NWC intends to incorporate the recommendations of the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers – to be released later this year – into its own guidelines.

The work group, formed last October, is studying how to increase the wages of more low-income workers and improve their well-being, beyond existing measures.

The Singapore National Employers Federation said in a statement that the recommendation to give special consideration to low-wage workers ensures that they are able to “benefit from economic recovery and growth”.

“In the event that their employers are still not doing well, the recommendation would then mitigate the economic impact on them,” noted the federation.

It added that the ongoing pandemic has highlighted how some front-line low-wage workers, particularly those serving in sectors such as cleaning and security, have been working harder to keep the country safe.

National Trades Union Congress president Mary Liew also urged employers to pay their staff an annual wage supplement, as this would go towards retaining talent and better position companies for recovery.

The annual wage supplement “will also help our workers during this challenging period with their seasonal expenses, and this is especially helpful for our low-wage workers”, she added.

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