Here is one Ministry of Manpower TV advert that I can totally relate to:
Before I quit my job to pursue blogging as a career, I was doing pretty well in a local training company. At age 24, my annual income was S$114,000. Much of it came from commissions as I was the salesperson for a kids’ training programme.
The company has this (very strange) policy of not paying out CPF monies on commissions. So, what this meant was that the company would pay the ’employer CPF contributions’ only on the (fixed) basic salary portion. As for the commissions (the bulk of my salary), BOTH the employee and employer’s CPF contributions would come from my salary. Hence, I took home less than what was stated on paper.
Some would call this “creative accounting”.
In the eyes of the law, it is wrong.
After I left the company, I sought the CPF Board’s help. The company was not happy. Apparently, they wanted to engage a lawyer, but the CPF Board told them they don’t have a case at all, and to pay up.
It was a 5-figure sum.
The cheque mailed to me did not have my full name. Interesting how I’ve been getting my pay for over 2 years without a hitch, and when asked by the CPF Board to hand over what rightfully belonged to me, they got my name wrong.
I went to the office personally to get a ‘new’ cheque from the Accounts Manager. 😉
Fast Forward A Couple Of Years
Nothing much has changed, I guess. I recently had one advertiser write to me to ask if I would be ok with the employer’s CPF contribution taken out of my blogging fee. Firstly, I had no idea why he wanted to pay me CPF monies, when just about every other advertiser doesn’t. Secondly, he was suggesting something that REALLY reminded me of my former employer. My answer to him, naturally, was no. It would not be right in the eyes of the law. I received my full blogging fee.
What sort of rights does a worker have?
This is not an exhaustive list:
1) Receiving salary payments on time, if not early, and no wrongful deduction of salary when on medical leave
Something my former employer didn’t always manage to do. Sometimes, payments can be delayed for 2-3 months. It naturally makes employees a little anxious, especially if it’s a 5-figure sum!
Do not be afraid about seeking help if you think your employer is engaging in “creative accounting” or in any way, not following through with the employment contract you signed. It’s never a good thing to suffer in silence.
2) Over-time pay if requested to work beyond the stated hours in your employment contract
I did work after office hours on some days, and on weekends as well. But the pay was good, so I couldn’t possibly have asked for OT pay, right? I guess this is a trade-off for some salespeople: work longer hours without OT pay, but earn more in commissions.
However you should check the MOM website to find out if you are eligible to ask for OT pay, as non-workmen (or non-manual jobs) earning up to $2,000 a month can claim OT pay. In 1 April 2014, this salary cap will be raised to $2,500.
3) The right to join the union for workplace protection.
Some employers tell their staff they cannot join the union, which is wrong because you should be able to have the freedom to choose what is best for yourself, including joining the union which can help you negotiate workplace grievances with your employer. Learn more about your rights as an employee from NTUC and Spring Singapore.
4) A Progressive Wage Model which compensates you fairly
If you have improved your productivity at work, picked up new skills or assumed higher responsibilities, as a staff who has contributed more to your company but have not seen any increase in your pay or benefits as a result, don’t be afraid to broach the subject with your employer tactfully.
Not all companies practise Progressive Wage Model as some employers prefer to raise the salaries as and when they feel like it, but with the NTUC successfully lobbying for the Progressive Wage Model being a mandatory condition for business licensing in the cleaning and security sectors, it is only a matter of time before other employers have to find ways to retain good staff who have been underpaid for too long.
5) Stand up for yourself if you deserve better
This sounds like common sense, but many workers are afraid to pursue cases of unfair termination, workplace discrimination and retrenchment benefits. Before you make a decision you cannot reverse, seek more information from NTUC on your rights and available options.