I have no idea how this notion came about but it is generally a huge taboo to divulge or ask anyone about their salary in Singapore, even among close friends or siblings, this stigma clearly exists. Regardless on whether yours is higher or lower than theirs, both scenarios could be embarrassing for either party. I believe this mindset is one of the primary reasons why people are willing to be fucked over by employers in their salary negotiation process till today.
Everyone is embarrassed to talk about their income and feel that it is disrespectful to ask another individual about theirs. Unless of course, you’re a recruiter or your company is hiring, then suddenly, your salary is fair game. This is something local job seekers should be very familiar with. Some companies don’t just ask you for your salary numbers, they even made it required for you, the job applicant, to submit your last payslip and CPF statement, just so they can verify that you were not actually lying.
While there are usually clauses in companies’ contract prohibiting employees from discussing their remuneration, I am not certain if those clauses actually have teeth. Also, in perusing the MOM website, I was unable to find any specific regulation which prohibits employees from sharing their income which leads to the basis of the rampant and unfair practice of employers actually demanding any potential job applicant to submit their payslips. On this note, IANAL, so please correct me if I am wrong.
In the job hiring process, salary transparency can make the entire process more straightforward. No more ping-ponging counteroffers between parties avoid wasting everyone’s time. With the salary known, compensation will be addressed toward the beginning of the recruitment process and this means that candidates can quickly decide whether a job is worth going after.
With more transparency in salary, it will also be a huge boost to solving the gender wage gap issue in Singapore. According to a consumer research report in 2016, the median gross monthly income of men was about $3,991, about 18 per cent higher than $3,382 for women.
If companies are willing to embrace open salary policies, while labour costs may tend to be higher in the short term, in addressing concerns over inequality, they will be lowered in the long term due to boost in employee morale and also reduced employee attrition.
While I don’t foresee this being pushed through in Singapore, on a legal level, specifically in the US, several states have enacted laws that bar employers from asking job candidates about their salary history.
Some additional reading:
- Introducing Open Salaries at Buffer: Our Transparent Formula and All Individual Salaries
- Why You Should Tell Your Co-Workers How Much Money You Make
How can we, as typical Singaporeans, play a role in changing the status quo and make it a more level playing field between employers and employees?
I’ve given this a fair amount of thought and I believe the answer is an anonymous and easy to access database of collated information from employees themselves (that’s us).
It might also be possible to get some salary ranges for different occupations and industries from the various job search websites and maybe Glassdoor?2018-09-05