Retail workers to earn more & enjoy better prospects with Progressive Wage Model

What’s happening?

The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for Singaporean or permanent residents retail workers will start from Sep 1 this year. In short, they can expect annual pay increments of 8.4 to 8.5 per cent over the next three years.

The progressive wage what?

Essentially the PWM is developed by the tripartite partnership of unions, employers and Government, with the aim of uplifting lower-wage workers’ wages. The expansion into the retail sector follows the successful implementation of PWM in the cleaning, landscape, waste management and security industries.

How will retail workers benefit?

According to Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, some 46,000 retail workers will benefit from sustained increments, minimum training requirements and clear progression pathway.

Ok that’s the English. What about hard numbers?

To put it in numeric terms, the monthly wage of a full-time entry-level retail assistant or cashier will grow by 18 per cent from S$1,850 in 2022 to S$2,175 in 2024. S$1,850 will also be the base wages for full-timers in the retail sector. Part-timers’ wages will increase too.

Why retail though?

The Tripartite Cluster for Retail Industry (TCR) found that about 19,000 of the 46,000 retail workers are lower-wage workers and will benefit from the PWM. TCR also reported that poor job image and lack of opportunities for progression have put off younger people from working in retail.

Speaking of progression, what is it like?

The TCR has proposed a career ladder that will provide workers with a clear progression pathway to higher wages, better skills, and increased job responsibilities. Each retail worker will need to complete a minimum of one WSQ training module applicable to the job role to enhance competencies and increase productivity.

Nice. How significant is this move?

SMS Zaqy described it as a “landmark” PWM. And it’s easy to see why. It’s one of the largest PWMs put in place and it’s the first PWM in a non-regulated sector.

But does it mean I need to pay more for my shopping?

Not necessarily. The Government will co-fund up to 75 per cent for increments for resident employees with gross monthly salaries of up to $2,500, up from 50 per cent. For salaries from $2,500 to $3,000, the co-funding is 45 per cent, up from 30 per cent.

SMS Zaqy told The Straits Times that higher wages doesn’t need to translate to price hikes.

“Ultimately it is not just about wage increases, but how you continue to sustain increases over time… It is important to look at business productivity, workforce productivity, as well as job redesign and how we improve work conditions too,” he said.

Great. Who’s next?

The food service sector and you can expect more sectors to benefit from PWM. The fact is: The PAP Government will always be a champion for lower-wage workers – it has been so since Day 1. The Party must, and will, continue to fight for fair and dignified treatment and to give our workers better jobs, higher wages and brighter futures.

Cover photo credit: Arturo Rey on Unsplash