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Pay scales & perks-Senior Research Scientist Cancer Research

Discuss about getting a well paid job or career advancement. Ask about salaries, expat packages, CPF & taxes for expatriate.

biomarker
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Pay scales & perks-Senior Research Scientist Cancer Rese

Postby biomarker » Wed, 14 Mar 2012 3:50 pm

Hello,

I am in negotiation with a prospective employer for a cancer research job. I have over 8 years experience in research, earlier 8 years in clinical diagnostics and cancer, a good publication track record and a diverse experience.

I am being offered a title of Senior Research scientist with a base pay of 90000$, subsidized housing and health insurance.

Please comment and share your experience. I particularly would like to know:

1] What are the main differences in the perks in the 3 Cadres – research fellow, Research Scientist and Senior Research Scientist?

2] What is the starting pay package? Does Singapore match existing pay scale that an employee is getting at his old job? I am getting a much higher pay currently.

3] How much is an average housing allowance for a person with my background and experience?

4] What is an expat allowance? Is it fixed? Should one ask for annual tickets to point of destination for self and family?

5] If it is an initial 1 year contract would I be taxed as “Resident –Tax”

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Postby zzm9980 » Wed, 14 Mar 2012 5:11 pm

The only thing that can be definitively answered is number 5:

You will pay the local rate as long as you are in Singapore for more than 183 days when you file your taxes. I've read previous discussions which state If you have a valid employment pass for the time you work which a validity date which would imply you will be here for longer, they will also give you the local rate.

Everything else is whatever you can negotiate. Even people in the same role at the same organization can be paid drastically in Singapore. No Guidelines for anything.
Some pro-tips when you negotiate:
Use your current salary to negotiate up. Housing is expensive, so do some searches on this forum to get an idea what to expect. If you have kids, private schooling is also expensive. If you can justify to them why you require a vehicle, get them to pay. The vehicle and related expenses are rather high.

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Postby biomarker » Wed, 14 Mar 2012 6:40 pm

Thanks 1 down , 5 more questions to be answered.
It is good to know that negotiation is an integral part and payscales are drastically different for same role.

No kids yet so that is not a factor and car is not in the priority listof " to neogotiate for things".

Once again thanks, zm9980

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Postby JR8 » Wed, 14 Mar 2012 7:41 pm

I've not seen that many medical type positions being discussed here, nor am I aware of any contributors that work in medicine.

However there have been one or two discussions on the general topic raised by people in your shoes over the past say 6 months. Maybe try using the search button under the profile button and looking for 'hospital'?

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Postby biomarker » Thu, 15 Mar 2012 12:12 am

Thanks JR8, the search tool did yield some useful tit bits but not much

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Pay scales & perks Senior Scientist Cancer Research

Postby pengembara » Thu, 15 Mar 2012 9:05 pm

I have a background in biomedical and health research and have just negotiated a relocation to Singapore to an academic institutio, but perhaps at a more senior level than you (I have >30 yrs experience). Let me try to answer some of your questions:

1. Not sure of the answer but presumably the more senior person can negotiate for more perks.
2. Starting pay figures are hard to come by but, from my own experience, Singapore is NOT able to match the pay you used to receive in your previous job, especially if it was in a 'rich' country in the western world. In my case, it worked out to a 30-40% drop in salary level (my previous job was in western Europe).
3. I'm being offered subsidized housing which is <50% of the going market rate. That's a significant saving.
4. I think a standardized 'expat allowance' is a myth-it's all negotiated independently and individually. I have known 'stars' who get the moon including a 'joining bonus'. Annual tickets home, education grants, etc are quite rare.
5. I think its a flat rate of 15%.
6. Correct. And as mentioned above it's all about negotiations on a case-by-case basis.

Having said all that, I think the pay they are offering you seems fair and be aware that there are some hidden benefits of life in Singapore (e.g. much lower tax rates than most western countries, free health insurance-at least in my case, no deductions for pension fund for non citizens, excellent infrastructure: one of the best public transport systems in the world-so no need to buy a car with all its attendant expenses,, safety, security, AND THE FOOD!!)

Good luck!

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Re: Pay scales & perks Senior Scientist Cancer Research

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 15 Mar 2012 10:43 pm

pengembara wrote:I have a background in biomedical and health research and have just negotiated a relocation to Singapore to an academic institutio, but perhaps at a more senior level than you (I have >30 yrs experience). Let me try to answer some of your questions:

1. Not sure of the answer but presumably the more senior person can negotiate for more perks.
2. Starting pay figures are hard to come by but, from my own experience, Singapore is NOT able to match the pay you used to receive in your previous job, especially if it was in a 'rich' country in the western world. In my case, it worked out to a 30-40% drop in salary level (my previous job was in western Europe).
3. I'm being offered subsidized housing which is <50% of the going market rate. That's a significant saving.
4. I think a standardized 'expat allowance' is a myth-it's all negotiated independently and individually. I have known 'stars' who get the moon including a 'joining bonus'. Annual tickets home, education grants, etc are quite rare.
5. I think its a flat rate of 15%.

Small correction. If you are here more than 183 days the first year you will be taxed at normal graduated resident tax rates. In fact if you are here less than 183 days and your EP indicates a minimum of 12 months, IRAS will tax you at resident rates as well the first year
.

6. Correct. And as mentioned above it's all about negotiations on a case-by-case basis.

Having said all that, I think the pay they are offering you seems fair and be aware that there are some hidden benefits of life in Singapore (e.g. much lower tax rates than most western countries, free health insurance-at least in my case, no deductions for pension fund for non citizens, excellent infrastructure: one of the best public transport systems in the world-so no need to buy a car with all its attendant expenses,, safety, security, AND THE FOOD!!)

Good luck!

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Postby biomarker » Thu, 15 Mar 2012 11:51 pm

Thanks Pengembara and sundaymorningstaple.

I completely agree with you about everything especially food!!!

Mr Moderater - this is a very useful site and one of the best forum I have come across.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 15 Mar 2012 11:59 pm

Thank you. We try to keep it clean & informative, but we also like to have a good time as well. Welcome aboard! :wink:

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Re: Pay scales & perks-Senior Research Scientist Cancer

Postby ecureilx » Fri, 16 Mar 2012 11:35 am

biomarker wrote:3] How much is an average housing allowance for a person with my background and experience?


Housing allowance, if you are going into stat boards / research institutions, they are pretty much fixed - from 800$ to 2,000$, which is reduced on a sliding scale once you obtain PR here.

Something to do with standardising allowances, as Singapore is enticing Singaporeans overseas to come back and don't want a Carte Blanche.

And as per your words "subsidized" instead of 'fully paid' .. only affirm the above.


4] What is an expat allowance? Is it fixed? Should one ask for annual tickets to point of destination for self and family?


From a stat-board, the offer letter contains something like 'cost of 1 set of return tickets - reimbursed' for employee and family, on economy / coach class.

For other benefits, better to wait for the offer letter.


6] From the forums I have understood that pay structure is not fixed. So, is it usual to negotiate with HR for base pay, housing and any other perks?


Again, from what I know, for lower levels, the pay is pretty much frozen. For higher levels, as you are, it is negotiable.

Wait for the offer letter, as they pretty much have standardised the perks.

I hope the above helps



edited: to fix incomplete sentence
Last edited by ecureilx on Fri, 16 Mar 2012 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Pay scales & perks-Senior Research Scientist Cancer Rese

Postby pengembara » Fri, 16 Mar 2012 4:02 pm

Just to add some additional thoughts after reflecting about my first posting and reading the other responses:

1. Explore additional benefits: there may be additional 'perks' you can negotiate for and explore, which could increase your earning power significantly. For example, the institution I'm joining has an end-of-year 1-3 month salary bonus incentive, based on performance. Also, it permits up to 52 days a year consultancy leave and up to 90 days a year academic leave. These can significantly add to your final pay, especially the bonus and the consultancy. I've been told that some of the staff can enhance their pay by up to 50% on top of their salary through these 2 perks. These 'perks' certainly did not exist in my previous job.

2. Avoid unrealistic expectations: like me, you were probably influenced by very rosy pictures painted by others about the astronomical salaries on offer in Singapore. As I mentioned before, these do exist (e.g. I personally know the head of an A*Star institute who was given carte blanche to move his entire lab, postdocs and lab techs included, to Singapore) but if, like me, you are in the middle part of the normal distribution bell curve, then it's better to get realistic and remove these kinds of figures out of our minds. And if you look at the more general postings on salaries in this great forum, we should not be complaining about what we'll be getting. Also, in your case not having children will reduce your overall expenses (cost is one thing, getting into an International School is another, and it also means you probably can do without a car).

3. Good research culture but some downsides: If, like me, you are a little fed up about always having to chase funds for research (and salary!), then Singapore is a godsend. Research funds abound and I certainly will not miss all the 'resource mobilisation', grant applications and progress reports I had to do in my previous job which, as you know, has become increasingly problematic in the context of the global financial crisis. In my case, this, in and of itself, was one of the MAIN reasons for relocating to Singapore-it reduces one of the key stresses in my previous job, a stress that perhaps cannot be measured in monetary terms. At the same time, there is a downside: much of the very substantial biomedical R&D investment in Singapore is underpinned by a short-term, commercial motive to (quickly) develop products of economic value (drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, devices, etc). If, like me, you are a basic biomedical researcher, this kind of pressure can be a bit unnerving and stressful-some of the powers that be do not understand that scientific discovery takes time and that some of our major innovations were serendipitous by-products of research which was entierly 'blue-sky'. Just be aware of this mindset.

Hope this helps further in making a decision.

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Re: Pay scales & perks-Senior Research Scientist Cancer

Postby ecureilx » Fri, 16 Mar 2012 4:30 pm

pengembara wrote:..... Hope this helps further in making a decision.


very informative, and, a +1 :)

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Re: Pay scales & perks-Senior Research Scientist Cancer

Postby nakatago » Fri, 16 Mar 2012 4:48 pm

pengembara wrote:For example, the institution I'm joining has an end-of-year 1-3 month salary bonus incentive, based on performance. Also, it permits up to 52 days a year consultancy leave and up to 90 days a year academic leave. These can significantly add to your final pay, especially the bonus and the consultancy. I've been told that some of the staff can enhance their pay by up to 50% on top of their salary through these 2 perks.


I'm curious. What are the KPI's for these bonuses in research here (in Singapore)? I know some use papers published/submitted for publication but I'd like to see a concrete example.

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Pay scales & perks-Senior Research Scientist Cancer Rese

Postby pengembara » Fri, 16 Mar 2012 8:04 pm

On the question about KPI's: I have not relocated as yet so cannot give you concrete examples but in preliminary discussions with my future institution, the KPI's seem quite standard for research more generally, and is in place in most institutions outside Singapore.

PUBLICATIONS remain as the only objective measure of performance but Singapore is becoming aware of 'quality over quantity', i.e. publications in high-impact journals will be rated higher especially in the biomedical sciences. Also, it very much depends on the field: in social science research, for example, publishing BOOKS is also rated highly, especially if it is published by a reputable publisher (e.g. Cambridge University Press).

I would also think that registering PATENTS would be an important KPI in the Singapore context but, once again, this applies mainly to biomedical research and S&T research more broadly (e.g.chemistry, engineering, electronics, etc). Another KPI which has been mentioned to me in the context of my planned relocation is POLICY OUTREACH, i.e. instead of just publishing a paper, what has one done about making sure the research is USED by policy- and decision-makers? This could take the form, for example, of policy briefs, think tank documents, or even articles in the general media (or TV/Radio interviews) which aim at influencing policy makers.

INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION by one's peers in the way of invited conference papers or presentations, or requests to Chair sessions in major scientific meetings, is another KPI which has been mentioned. This also includes invitations to write book reviews and forewords to books published by others and, of course, invitations to be on the editorial boards of major journals, governing/advisory bodies of research institute and initiatives, awarding/nomination of/to prizes, and to be a peer-reviewer in research grant applications.

Depending on the position and institution, TEACHING (and teaching excellence as measured by student feednack) is another KPI but I suspect that this is probably not been given the weighting it deserves. My own personal view is that teaching and research are closely linked-to be a good teacher it's important to be doing research and, in the opposite direction, to be a good researcher one clearly needs a very good understanding of the subject-which is enhanced considerably by having to teach it effectively.

Just my two cents' worth.

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Pay scales & perks-Senior Research Scientist Cancer Rese

Postby pengembara » Fri, 16 Mar 2012 8:09 pm

Sorry, forgot to add one more KPI and this is the one linked to ADMINISTRATIVE contributions, i.e. serving on various School/Faculty/Departmental committees, and inter-School committees, on various issues not necessarily related or confined to just research.


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