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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower & Senior Minister of State, National Development, to Parliamentary Question on the Special Employment Credit Scheme

Ms Mary Liew: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower if he will give an update on the Special Employment Credit scheme, particularly how much has been disbursed to date and how many employees have benefited from the scheme.

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin:

The Special Employment Credit (SEC) was introduced in 2011 to support employers and to raise the employability of older low-wage Singaporean employees. To date, $35.9m has been paid out to 58,000 employers for employing 189,000 eligible older Singaporeans in 2011.

In 2012, the SEC was significantly enhanced to provide greater incentive to help employers attract and retain older Singaporeans. The age criterion was lowered to age 50, when it was previously age 55. The income cut-off was raised to $4,000 per month, when it was previously $1,700 per month. The SEC payout was also raised to 8% of the monthly wage, which means that the maximum payout (of $240 per worker per month) has been increased by about seven-fold.

The first payment of the enhanced SEC, for eligible workers hired in the period January to June 2012, will be made to employers in September 2012. 85,000 employers (a 50% increase) will receive about $230m (more than a six-fold increase) for employing 383,000 eligible Singaporeans (a two-fold increase) in the first half of 2012. Among Singaporean workers aged 50 and above, about 85% were eligible for the SEC.

The Government encourages employers to take advantage of the SEC by hiring older workers. Older workers can add valuable experience and expertise to organisations at a time when the labour market is tight.