Employment contract talks, housing allowance vs. PR

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UdoRG
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Employment contract talks, housing allowance vs. PR

Post by UdoRG » Tue, 14 Feb 2012 5:15 pm

I employed by a local Singapore entity. I have three related employment congtract questions

One: my current 2 year contract is set to expire at the end of April. In my new contract offer they are packaging part of my compensation as housing allowance, which they had not done before. The amount of this housing allowance is based on family size and is subject to change if my family size changes. As I have a daughter soon going off to college my housing allowance will presumably drop shortly after this new contract would start, wiping out most of my raise. In the U.S. it is illegal to use family information as part of the compensation package. Is it legal to do so here in Singapore?

Two, my contract also states that if I should obtain PR status my entire housing allowance will cease one year from obtaining PR status. All I can figure is that they intend then to take back my housing allowance in order to pay thier portion of the CPF obligation. Is this legal? Is this customary? Is there another reason for their wanting to do this of which I am not aware?

Three, how should I approach my contract discussion with my employer? As an American I am used to the idea that when it comes to professional employee contracts you only get what you negotiate for. My impression thus far is that my Singapore employer is genuinely surprised, even perhaps offended, that I don't simply accept their initial offer. Yet, they are, from my perspective, low-balling everything, which would seem to invite negotiation. I am unsure of how to proceed when I meet with HR to discuss my contract. Should I be sweet and apologetic about asking for more than they are proposing, or should I be all business, be straight forward, and negotiate strongly. I am comfortable being quite strong in this process but don't want to risk sabotaging the process either. I am of beneift to my employer and my loss would hurt them in the short run, but they would cover fully within a year. In other words, I am valuable but not indespensible.

Thanks for your thoughts.

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Re: Employment contract talks, housing allowance vs. PR

Post by Mad Scientist » Tue, 14 Feb 2012 5:36 pm

UdoRG wrote:I employed by a local Singapore entity. I have three related employment congtract questions

One: my current 2 year contract is set to expire at the end of April. In my new contract offer they are packaging part of my compensation as housing allowance, which they had not done before. The amount of this housing allowance is based on family size and is subject to change if my family size changes. As I have a daughter soon going off to college my housing allowance will presumably drop shortly after this new contract would start, wiping out most of my raise. In the U.S. it is illegal to use family information as part of the compensation package. Is it legal to do so here in Singapore?

In SG , Employment contract supersedes Employment Act hence whatever is written on the contract is binding. If it is written as such on the package and you accept it then it is binded. To my limited knowledge it is not illegal here.

Two, my contract also states that if I should obtain PR status my entire housing allowance will cease one year from obtaining PR status. All I can figure is that they intend then to take back my housing allowance in order to pay thier portion of the CPF obligation. Is this legal? Is this customary? Is there another reason for their wanting to do this of which I am not aware?

Yes, this is a common practise

Three, how should I approach my contract discussion with my employer? As an American I am used to the idea that when it comes to professional employee contracts you only get what you negotiate for. My impression thus far is that my Singapore employer is genuinely surprised, even perhaps offended, that I don't simply accept their initial offer. Yet, they are, from my perspective, low-balling everything, which would seem to invite negotiation. I am unsure of how to proceed when I meet with HR to discuss my contract. Should I be sweet and apologetic about asking for more than they are proposing, or should I be all business, be straight forward, and negotiate strongly. I am comfortable being quite strong in this process but don't want to risk sabotaging the process either. I am of beneift to my employer and my loss would hurt them in the short run, but they would cover fully within a year. In other words, I am valuable but not indespensible.

MY POV is how much do you really want to work for this employer ? Can you find another job here if you leave this job? SG employer can be sometimes bastard and assumed that you will swallow everything they offer. Write the pros and cons and compare.
Once you know where you stand, discuss and be gentle and upfront but not submissive



Thanks for your thoughts.
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Re: Employment contract talks, housing allowance vs. PR

Post by x9200 » Tue, 14 Feb 2012 5:55 pm

UdoRG wrote:In the U.S. it is illegal to use family information as part of the compensation package.
Really? So if an US employer offers you financing for the education of your children or medical insurance it is always the same amount of money you get paid/compensated regardless the No of children/family members?

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 14 Feb 2012 5:58 pm

Welcome to The Big Bad World! This is not the USofA. First lesson. Forgot everything you ever learned about ethics. They don't apply here. Second lesson. If you forget the rules, go back to lesson one.

If you earn more than 2000/mo you are only protected by what you negotiate and sign for. You are not protected by the Employment Act. Everything that is illegal in the USofA is legal here and then some.

Best get used to it or have second thoughts. There are a lot of us yanks here. And there are a couple on this board, 2 are moderators here. Strong Eagle & Moi!
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Re: Employment contract talks, housing allowance vs. PR

Post by ecureilx » Tue, 14 Feb 2012 7:51 pm

UdoRG wrote: Two, my contract also states that if I should obtain PR status my entire housing allowance will cease one year from obtaining PR status. All I can figure is that they intend then to take back my housing allowance in order to pay thier portion of the CPF obligation. Is this legal? Is this customary? Is there another reason for their wanting to do this of which I am not aware?
Cutting housing allowance has nothing to do with CPF and all .. And you figure wrong ..

I assume you are talking of a decently big company .. and big companies like that are least worried about such 'offset' packages, while it is common among small companies. Heck, my current employer never paid anybody housing allowance, but, actively encourage foreigners to apply PR, regardless the fact they will have to chip in the employers share .. such minor amounts are the least of their worries ..

The reason you loose your Housing allowance is simply, once you are on PR, you cease to be a foreigner, in terms of Singapore Govt, and you gotta work on local terms. Locals don't get housing allowance or do they get and fail to tell me ?? Oh, in US, do you get housing allowance ?

Oh, recently in one of our country functions, I met a prof in a Uni here, 9 years here and going strong, all the while on EP, due to the 'benefits' he will loose if he becomes PR .. including his 'housing allowance', 'annual tickets for flight back home' and 'other allowances .. '

You can't have the cake and eat it ..

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Post by x9200 » Tue, 14 Feb 2012 8:25 pm

ecureilx, sorry to say but you are wrong. It rather depends on the employer not the government at least at this legal moment. I had a housing allowance for some time being PR as I basically refused to take up PR for the reason of losing the allowance. My employer proposed a compromise which I eventually accepted.

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Post by ecureilx » Tue, 14 Feb 2012 8:31 pm

x9200 wrote:ecureilx, sorry to say but you are wrong. It rather depends on the employer not the government at least at this legal moment. I had a housing allowance for some time being PR as I basically refused to take up PR for the reason of losing the allowance. My employer proposed a compromise which I eventually accepted.
Oops .. My words came out wrong ..

What I meant was, once you on PR, you are, in the eyes of the Sing Gov + your employer, as good as a local, and, hence, your employer has every right to treat you as a local and stop your housing, whether you get it or not .. .. :) and you should work on local terms .. is the logic.

And yes, it is all upto the employer ..

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Post by ecureilx » Wed, 15 Feb 2012 11:49 am

x9200: I asked my HR Manager today, at the weekly breakfast chat .. and casually she said that if the employee is worth it, they will consider retaining the Housing allowance after PR .. or else, it is taken off, and so does the CPF - which for our company, is full contribution, once CPF board approves (about 2 months max, from the date PR is awarded) and so is the matching CPF contribution, by employer, also in Full ! No sliding scale.

atleast For hospitals, for housing allowances, they have a sliding scale.

Upon PR and until the end of the first year of PR, 25% minus off housing allowance

second year, 50% less

third year onwards, none ...

So, yes, different companies have different policies ...

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Post by zzm9980 » Wed, 15 Feb 2012 11:57 am

Slightly off topic, but what do most companies do for Employer-CPF contributions before one is a PR? Obviously this varies by company, but I'm just curious the generalities of them.

My company for example pays me the full amount monthly. Another "very famous bank" I know of puts the amount into some type of investment account for the employee, and gives it to them when they leave.

Do most companies do something like this? Are we just the lucky ones?

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Post by ecureilx » Wed, 15 Feb 2012 12:54 pm

zzm9980 wrote:Slightly off topic, but what do most companies do for Employer-CPF contributions before one is a PR? Obviously this varies by company, but I'm just curious the generalities of them.

My company for example pays me the full amount monthly. Another "very famous bank" I know of puts the amount into some type of investment account for the employee, and gives it to them when they leave.

Do most companies do something like this? Are we just the lucky ones?
of the half dozen or so employers, all of them never talked about the "EMPLOYERS' CONTRIBUTION"

The current one, pays the employer's component as additional pay, and It wasn't talked about during my interview, and offer letter.

My first month pay came, with additional pay, and I went to HR and they clarified that it is our company policy so to add the Employers contrb to the basic pay so pay is basic + CPF %

So do most large companies do I understand ..

And for SMEs ? the SME employers before my current one .. they consider the CPF component as cost, and are happy to have foreigners who don't ask for that CPF component, as it saves them $ and coupled with the 'pay back' schemes, one too many SME employers were actually getting people to work for them almost FOC .. (like the case of air stewardesses in India who were paying money to get experience .. until some airlines saw that employing trainees as a revenue stream ) .. and it was going fine until the govt started enforcing levy for S Pass (or former Q2) and .. more levy is foreseen ..
Last edited by ecureilx on Wed, 15 Feb 2012 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 15 Feb 2012 4:06 pm

zzm9980 wrote:Slightly off topic, but what do most companies do for Employer-CPF contributions before one is a PR? Obviously this varies by company, but I'm just curious the generalities of them.

My company for example pays me the full amount monthly. Another "very famous bank" I know of puts the amount into some type of investment account for the employee, and gives it to them when they leave.

Do most companies do something like this? Are we just the lucky ones?
It's mostly in the financial sector as far as I'm aware of. I'm sure there are others but by far and large, these would be the majority I think. You're the lucky ones. Along with bigger pay packages, more leave days, and I should have studied harder in school! :cry:
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by Hidy Ho » Wed, 15 Feb 2012 4:40 pm

ZZM said elsewhere he ain't that ejucated but got tailent.

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Post by zzm9980 » Wed, 15 Feb 2012 4:43 pm

Hidy Ho wrote:ZZM said elsewhere he ain't that ejucated but got tailent.
but but but i thought the path was to get a "MASTERS" from a "world reknown university" and then work at a "very famous bank"? :???:

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 15 Feb 2012 5:02 pm

Can tell the difference in the folks we hung around with in our youths....

I was told to become a master of "infamous street smarts" and rob the "very famous bank". Didn't succeed there either! ](*,)
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Post by Mad Scientist » Wed, 15 Feb 2012 5:24 pm

How about "Masters of All Trades, Jack of All Stunt" ?
The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.Yahoo !!!

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