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Civil service pay rise can have ‘ripple effect’ on job market, say HR experts


She said that she has been seeing a median of 15 to 25 per cent wage increases, with 35 to 50 per cent jumps for jobs in demand, such as in IT and life sciences. 

“What the Government has done is actually, I would say, a bare minimum for government jobs and definitely not in the front of it, to say that they are offering the most generous increments, (but) it’s at least getting them up to a level playing field with external markets,” said Ms Dass.

And this could mean further adjustments to wage levels in the market, analysts said.

Said Ms Dass: “The Government coming out and announcing it like that is definitely letting the cat out of the bag … The next domino effect would be people going out there and demanding (salary increases).

“But whether you state it or not, it’s already happening in the commercial private sector.”


Mr Peter Hamilton, APAC vice president and managing director at KellyOCG, said that it is possible to see a “ripple effect” on the rest of the market, forcing employers to also review their compensation and benefits in other areas.

ManpowerGroup’s Ms Teo said that this “indirectly sets a benchmark” for companies in the private sector and will affect small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

“The hike will likely hit SME companies the hardest as they have limited financial resources and usually take the lead from the government sector,” said Ms Teo. 

“Employers who are unable to meet the increased salary demands and hire the people they need might end up relocating their operations to countries with lower labour costs in order to manage their bottom line.”

The experts emphasised that pay was not the only factor here. Mr Hamilton said that besides reviewing the compensation and benefits for employees, it is important to look into employee experience, mental wellbeing and health. 

He said that globally, 37 per cent of employees’ expectations have changed since the pandemic, citing KellyOCG’s global Re:Work survey. 

They have higher expectations around work-life balance, flexible working arrangements, benefits and support for their wellbeing, said Mr Hamilton.

“This figure is higher in Singapore at 43 per cent, reinforcing the need for Singapore businesses to take prompt action for a more talent-centric attraction, engagement and retention strategy,” he said.
“Compensation aside, there could also be a higher demand or acceptance for workforce agility or flexible work arrangements.”

Singapore’s Public Service Division has said that it will increase efforts to provide officers with meaningful career opportunities and support officers’ growth and development with job attachments, structured job rotations, formal training and project work. It has also introduced hybrid work arrangements and flexible work options.

Ms Dass of Randstad said that the civil service can also “take a stand” in these aspects and help set a benchmark for the private sector.

“I think there needs to be some mandated guidelines around how much flexibility companies need to offer, and also some ‘sticks’ that catch employers out for offering bad working conditions to employees,” she said.

Read More: Civil service pay rise can have ‘ripple effect’ on job market, say HR experts

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