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Enhanced Salary Benchmarks for Social Service Professionals

Type: Press Releases

Topic(s): Social Service Agencies & Partners, Social Service Professionals, Committee of Supply

Up to 12% Increase in Salary Norms for MSF-Funded Social Service Sector Programmes

1 Social service professionals can look forward to better remuneration packages from this year. From 1 April 2018, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will enhance salary norms for MSF-funded programmes by up to 12 per cent across all professions and job levels. These range from professionals like social workers and therapists, to leadership positions such as executive directors and heads of organisations.

2 MSF and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) review the benchmarks on which salary norms are based every three years, to keep pace with salary growth in the broader labour market. This will help ensure the sustainability of social services, and enhance standards. In the years between benchmark reviews, the salary norms are adjusted to keep pace with annual average wage growth in the broader labour market.

3 The recurrent programme funding to support the manpower costs of Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) will increase by about 5 per cent, or $11 million, in FY 2018. This complements other measures that MSF and NCSS have introduced over the past few years to improve talent attraction and retention in the sector.

4 The Social Service Sector Salary Guidelines published by NCSS will be updated on 29 March 2018 to reflect the latest salary norms. To better attract and retain talent, VWOs are encouraged to take reference from the Guidelines to derive the salary structure and salary levels in their organisation. Currently, about three-quarters of employees in VWOs running MSF-funded programmes are paid within the Guidelines.


1) What are salary norms and benchmarks?

Salary norms are the average gross monthly salary that MSF uses to derive the amount of funding to provide for manpower costs in VWO-run programmes that it funds. The salary norms are derived from wages of comparable jobs in the labour market, which we refer to as 'salary benchmarks'.

2) How often are salaries reviewed? What happens in between salary reviews?

MSF reviews the salary guidelines and its funding norms for manpower once every 3 years. The review is done based on wage benchmarks in competing labour markets. The last review was in 2015. In the intervening years, the salary guidelines and norms are adjusted to factor in average wage growth in the labour market. The guidelines are published by NCSS to guide VWOs in keeping their remuneration practices competitive, so that they can continue to attract and retain talent.

3) What is the increase in salary norms and in the amount of funding that VWOs will receive?

The salary norms will increase by up to 12 per cent across all professions (see Annex) and job levels. The total programme funding to support the manpower costs of VWOs will increase commensurately by about 5 per cent, or $11 million, in FY 2018.

4) What has been the impact on the sector since the Salary Guidelines were first published in 2015?

VWOs have been trying to increase wages to keep pace with the Salary Guidelines. About three-quarters of employees in VWOs running MSF-funded programmes are paid within the Guidelines.NCSS has also seen more VWOs expressing interest to improve their HR structures and practices, with almost one-third of the sector's VWOs participating in a HR consultancy programme which NCSS is currently running

5) Are the salary guidelines compulsory for VWOs to adopt? Why?

VWOs have the flexibility to manage their financial and human resources. However, we strongly encourage VWOs to adopt the salary guidelines, in order to keep up with wages in the broader labour market.

6) What are the other ongoing initiatives that will improve salaries in the social service sector?

NCSS is currently implementing the People Practice Consultancy (PPC) project, which is a direct effort to further build HR capabilities for our social service organisations. To date, more than one hundred organisations are participating to improve their HR practices, supported by our partner HR consultants who supports their diagnostic and development efforts over a period of 2-3 years.Alongside the PPC, NCSS is leading the sector's employment branding efforts via various campaigns in the community and social media. MSF and NCSS are also working with SkillsFuture Singapore to develop the Skills Framework for Social Service, which will include details on skills required in various job roles in the sector. This will help employers to attract, retain and groom talent, supported by competitive salaries.Professional development initiatives funded by the government, such as the Professional Development and Management Programme administered by NCSS, course fee subsidies funded by SkillsFuture Singapore and the VWOs-Charities Capability Fund, and the SkillsFuture Study Awards, provide support and opportunities for social service professionals to upgrade their skills sets. These would help to improve their career prospects and wages over time.

Annex List of professions covered in the Salary Guidelines

Head of Agency (e.g. Executive Director, Organisation Head)
Executive / Manager
Early Intervention Teacher & Teaching Aide
SPED Principal, Teacher & Teacher Assistant
Psychologist & Associate Psychologist
Social Worker & Social Work Associate
Therapist (Physio, Occupational & Speech-and-Language)
Social Service Assistant & Care Staff (e.g. Therapy Aide, Healthcare Attendant, Personal Care Officer, House Parent)
Workshop Instructor
Clerical Officer/Associate
General Worker