A local migrant workers' group has expressed its disappointment at the government's decision to hold off making it mandatory for employers to issue payslips to workers.

In a statement yesterday, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) said that it supported the recent call by Member of Parliament Zainal Sapari to have such a requirement in place for a specific timeframe.

The non-profit group also wants the Manpower Ministry (MOM) to "at least institute it as a condition" required of employers who want to apply for work permits.

Mandatory payslips were to have been part of the slew of changes to the Employment Act that was passed in Parliament last week.

Having payslips helps workers keep track of what they are paid and deter irresponsible employment practices, such as making unreasonable pay deductions or underpaying workers.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin had told the House then that the decision to defer making payslips compulsory was prompted by strong objections from small and medium-sized enterprises, especially smaller businesses like HDB retail shops.

SMEs had earlier given feedback to the ministry that issuing payslips would add to their administrative costs.

TWC2 pointed out that issuing payslips do not significantly add to a company's costs as it called on MOM to not accept this as an "excuse".

During the debate on the Employment Act, Mr Sapari, a labour MP, said SMEs "might have exaggerated" their difficulties in issuing payslips.

"Salary short-payment is a common complaint of foreign workers in Singapore," said TWC2.

The group added that it was in the middle of conducting a survey of foreign workers, and initial results show that as many as a third of work permit holders here may not have been properly paid their last monthly salary.

"Given that there are about 750,000 non-domestic work permit holders in Singapore, this means as many as 250,000 are affected. Problems include improperly calculated overtime, arbitrary lowering of basic pay, unpaid no-work days and opaque deductions," said TWC2.

In Parliament, Mr Tan had said making employers issue payslips was "the direction we want to go" and steps towards it would be taken in phases.

While he did not specify a timeframe for doing so, he said that tripartite guidelines to nudge employers would be issued in the first half of 2014.