Protection for professionals
Veteran MP Cedric Foo highlighted the need for greater safeguards for PMEs and said that locals could face discrimination from foreign employers who preferred workers from their own country.
“This is prevalent in certain sectors of our economy and also in certain companies more than others,” he told The Straits Times
One reason for this is that there is currently no quota or limit on the number of foreign professionals a company can hire, he said.
Foo Mee Har, MP for the West Coast GRC, said that firms employing an unusually high number of PMEs should be called upon to correct this imbalance.
They should also “submit a detailed plan on how they intend to train and develop Singaporeans for those jobs,” she added.
The freelance talent pool
Labour MP, Ang Hin Kee from the Ang Mo Kio GRC, said that HR should see the growing number of local freelancers as a resource and not cheap labour. There are currently around 200,000 freelancers in Singapore.
As unions have opened up to freelancers, it is time that businesses do the same, he said.
“As freelance work grows to become a popular career choice, it is timely to tailor policies to be more inclusive to freelancers.”
Making low-wage worthwhile
Another labour MP, Zainal Sapari, from the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, pointed out that many low-wage workers in non-unionised companies have yet to receive the higher pay suggested in the National Wages Council’s (NWC) guidelines.
Since 2012, the NWC has suggested four rounds of pay increases of at least S$50 for workers earning up to S$1,000.
However, “employers view NWC’s recommendations as merely guidelines,” said Zainal.
He suggested firms provide annual salary increments to low-wage workers’ basic pay. Annual supplements or a 13th month bonus should also be supplied.
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Three key areas in which HR needs to step up and improve have been identified by Singapore members of parliament: professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), freelancers, and low-wage workers.