Civil service salary revision: Private firms largely unfazed, say they’ve already raised wages as economy reopened

SINGAPORE — Employers in the private sector have been revising their workers’ salaries and doling out wage increments since the start of the year as the economy reopened further in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is why the move by the Public Service Division (PSD) to raise the salaries of civil servants is timely, economists and human resource professionals said

A check with some private companies showed that they have increased the salaries of their employees through the first half of the year, with one firm saying that the increment has been as high as 20 per cent.

On Sunday, PSD announced that about 23,000 officers in the civil service’s generic schemes and related schemes will get a pay raise of between 5 per cent and 14 per cent from Aug 1. 

The adjustments were to ensure that the the civil service is “able to continue to attract and retain its fair share of talent”, it said.

“The civil service periodically reviews salaries and adjusts them when necessary to broadly keep pace with, but not lead, the market,” it added.

Economists may agree with the need to keep salaries competitive especially in the midst of rising inflation, but they also expressed concern at how this might result in a tighter labour market. 

However, most companies interviewed by TODAY did not indicate plans to respond directly to PSD’s move, saying that they had already bumped up the salaries of their employees.

Last week, the Ministry of Manpower said that companies here have become more profitable, with seven in 10 employees receiving wage increases in 2021, up from just under six in 10 in 2020.

KPMG Singapore, which provides audit, tax and advisory services, announced in a statement last month that as part of a salary adjustment exercise, it will raise the starting pay for entry-level professional workers by up to 20 per cent. 

This will be on top of the S$25 million the firm is investing into salary increments this financial year. 

The company also recently announced a S$30 million investment over five years into a lifelong learning programme for its 3,200-strong workforce.

Responding to queries by TODAY, Ms Janice Foo, head of people at KPMG Singapore, said that “despite current global geopolitical and economic uncertainties, the firm continues to pay out bonuses competitively at the market rate”.

One consideration for increasing salaries is to “keep the talent pipeline strong” for accounting graduates in particular, as the number of students studying these courses at the university level in recent years is lower than before, she added.


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