Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) for each year in the past five years, what percentage of social service agencies adopt the salary guidelines of the National Council of Social Services; (b) what are the main reasons provided by social service agencies for not adopting the guidelines; and (c) if this information is not currently available, whether the Ministry will start tracking this information.
1. Based on the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Manpower and Salary Survey (MPSS) of Social Service Agencies (SSAs) conducted in 2015, 2017 and 2019, the proportion of full-time, resident employees1 with salaries adhering to the recommended starting salaries in the salary guidelines ranged from 87% in 2015, to 76% in 2017 and 79% in 2019. This is amidst increments in the guidelines of approximately 3-4% annually, to keep pace with comparable jobs in other sectors and general wage movements. This was also accompanied by increases in monthly median salaries whereby for example, entry-level social workers’ salaries increased from $3,400 in 2015 and 2017 to $3,600 in 2019.
2. SSAs are reliant on external funding, fund-raising and the generosity of donors to support their operating costs. SSAs have cited the ability to sustain the recurrent cost of salaries as a key consideration in deciding staff salaries. MSF and NCSS will continue to work closely with the sector to strengthen their capacities and capabilities, so that their salaries can be more aligned to the guidelines.
3. MSF and NCSS also respect each SSAs’ underlying mission and philosophy in delivering social services. We strongly encourage the sector (including the Boards of SSAs) to adopt the guidelines, so as to be able to recruit and retain competent and dedicated professionals who play an important role in supporting the sector’s work and ensuring that beneficiaries are well-served.
1 Different SSAs could have varying proportions of employees with pay meeting the guidelines depending on their own context and circumstances for their remuneration policies.