Singapore expat salaries lowest in four years

A new survey breaks down the current trends for expat pay packages within the APAC region

Singapore expat salaries lowest in four years
While Singapore has the ninth highest expatriate pay packages in the Asia-Pacific, the total amount of remuneration actually dropped to its lowest level in four years.
These findings came from the MyExpatriate Market Pay survey by ECA International which revealed that a typical pay package for expat middle managers in Singapore was US$239,400 (S$323,100) in 2015.
This fell by eight per cent over the previous 12 months, the survey found, dropping Singapore from last year’s seventh position.
“The situation in Singapore has been changing over the past decade or so, with a greater provision of host-based salary and benefits packages to expatriate staff,” said Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International.
“They can include reduced base salaries (average salary down six per cent in US dollars from last year), incentives, allowances and retirement plans.”
As a result, average salaries for middle managers have dropped by US$5,000, he said.
This means expat packages in Singapore are now much lower than in Hong Kong which rose to fourth place in the survey. While both locations saw a decrease in the total cost of their expat packages, the decline in Singapore was far more prominent.
“In Singapore, the most expensive part of the expatriate package is typically the benefits element: the value of these is second highest in the region after Hong Kong,” said Quane.
“The cost of providing certain benefits such as housing and education is the most expensive element of the pay package when relocating middle management staff to Singapore.”
Traditional pay packages for expats have been calculated using the employee’s home country salary as a basis and then adjusting it for cost of living, additional allowances and taxation, ECA International said in a press release.
Now however, more Asian companies are using a different approach – especially for employees sent on a permanent one-way basis – where the host country salary is used as a starting point with additional allowances such as housing and school fees added on afterwards.
“When choosing an expatriate pay approach it is essential for companies to be clear about the reasons behind the assignment so that their choice reinforces this,” Quane said
“This will also help them to decide whether they wish to create equity among home or host country peers – something that has become even more complex as companies manage increasingly diverse nationalities in and out of different markets. And of course all this needs to balance against benefits and costs to the business.”
For HR practitioners overseeing regional workforces, the average expat packages for middle managers across the Asia-Pacific can be found below:
  • Australia (US$336,700)
  • Japan (US$329,000)
  • China (US$290,000)
  • Hong Kong (US$267,000)
  • Singapore (US$239,400)
  • Taiwan (US$221,000)
  • Malaysia (USD176,000)
Related stories:
Expat wages in Singapore well above global average
Revealed: the most expensive cities for expats
Do expats actually earn more than locals in Singapore?

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