The alternative news in 1 day? (part 28) – Is payslip really so complicated?

(Photo: Worker writing how much he is owed in pay)

Straits Times reported that Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) MOM, NTUC and SNEF has developed guidelines on how employers can issue itemised payslips (Straits Times, Jan 13).

Guidelines for payslips?

It states that employers can now refer to a set of guidelines on how to issue itemised payslips to employees and what information to include in them.

The tripartite guidelines which are developed by MOM, NTUC and SNEF, provide templates of payslips that companies may use and customise based on their own needs. According to the guidelines, the payslip should indicate and record items such as basic salary, total allowances and total deductions for each salary period.

No payslips” problem for a long time?

For years, a lot of people, including migrant worker NGOs have been asking for pay slips to be made mandatory, because it may be problematic when workers complain that they have not been paid or underpaid.

MOM said in a press release on Monday that the tripartite partners agree that the provision of itemised payslips to employees is a good employment practice as it raises employee’s awareness of their salary components and helps in resolving salary disputes.

And the ministry intends to mandate the issuance of itemised payslips within the next two year and added that the guidelines were developed after consultations with various stakeholders.

But does it not make you wonder why such a simple thing as having a pay slip needs to take years – involve so many organizations, processes, guidelines, etc?

The ministry then said in the press release that it received feedback that many smaller SMEs (small and medium enterprises), especially enterprises such as ‘mom and pop’ shops and hawkers, find issuing itemised payslips challenging. And the guidelines aim to prepare these businesses to change their practices in a sustainable way, so that they are able to comply when the ministry make it a legal requirement for payslip to be issued.

The question that follows this is why then can’t we make it mandatory and provide assistance to so called ‘mom and pop’ shops and hawkers – like for example what the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has been doing so well for many years for tax submission?

If something so complicated as income tax can be done for assistance – why is it so difficult for a payslip?

How many items or combination of items can there be in a payslip that requires so many templates, guidelines, changing practices in a sustainable way, etc?

As I understand it, most if not all of the complaints and salary disputes are I understand not from so called ‘mom and pop’ shops and hawkers?

If indeed I am mistaken in this regard – can the statistics be given as to how many ‘mom and pop” shops and hawkers had salary disputes and complaints, relative to the total number of complaints?

Super complicated payslip?

The ministry said that it  is also working with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and SPRING Singapore to, by April 2014, provide tools such as simple payslip booklets, downloadable templates, and funding support for companies to develop customised solutions regarding the issuance of payslips. But don’t you get the feeling that its like “much ado over nothing”?

I mean after all – it’s just a simple one page payslip – can’t be so complicated that we seem to be talking about it like “rocket science”?

Labour movement?

Perhaps the labour movement’s statement tops it all, as to how arguably, farcical – this issue of payslips is becoming:

The Labour Movement  issued a statement in which it said:

The Labour Movement welcomes these guidelines as it would translate to greater transparency for workers. Providing workers with itemised payslips will go some way to help them better understand their salary components as well as provide a means of proper documentation.

On the part of workers, we encourage them to keep their payslips properly and clarify with their employers or HR personnel if they do not understand any of the components listed in their payslips.

Uniquely Singapore!

By Leong Sze Hian