Skip to main content

Written Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on number of freelancers and self-employed workers in the workforce

Notice Paper No. 32 Of 2016 For The Sitting On 29 February 2016 Question No. 28 For Written Answer

MP: Ang Hin Kee

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) how many freelancers and self-employed workers are there currently in the workforce; (b) what is the number of freelancers and self-employed workers that make regular contributions to their Medisave accounts; and (c) whether the Work Injury Compensation Act can be extended to workers who are freelancers and self-employed.


  1. As of June 2015, 300,500 (or 14%) of employed residents (2,147,800) were self-employed persons (SEPs)1. Of these SEPs, 169,500 (or 8% of employed residents) were own account workers, who operate their own business or trade without employing any paid worker2.
  2. Today, SEPs are required to contribute to their Medisave Accounts so as to save for their healthcare needs. As of Dec 2015, 82% of SEPs have made regular contributions to their Medisave accounts. To encourage more SEPs to make timely and regular Medisave contributions, the CPF Board reaches out to SEPs via annual mailers and road shows, and allows SEPs to make their Medisave contributions via instalments. The CPF Board also works with various Licensing Authorities to ensure that self-employed licensees make regular Medisave contributions.
  3. The Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) requires employers to compensate their employees who have work-related injuries. As self-employed persons operate their own business or trade, there is no employer-employee relationship between them and their clients. As such, they are not covered under the WICA. Nonetheless, we encourage self-employed persons to purchase adequate insurance to protect themselves in the event of a work injury. I am heartened to note that NTUC’s Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit (FSEU) has been engaging various freelancer groups, such as taxi drivers and sports coaches, on this matter.


  1. The share of employed residents who were SEPs has decreased slightly from a decade ago in 2006, when SEPs accounted for 15% of the resident workforce.
  2. SEPs also comprise employers and contributing family workers.