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Oral Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Support for Freelancers And The Self Employed

Notice Paper No. 449 For The Sitting On 6 February 2017

Question No. 875 For Oral Answer

MP: Desmond Choo

To ask the Minister for Manpower in light of the increase in numbers of workers participating in the "sharing" economy with many being freelancers or self-employed (a) whether has there been a deflationary impact on wages in sectors with a high concentration of such workers; and (b) how can the Government help these workers to be financially adequate in their retirement.

Answer

  1. In June 2016, there were about 180,000 primary freelancers who operated their own business or trade as their main work without employing any paid worker, accounting for around 8% of working residents.
  2. Even though the share of these primary freelancers has remained relatively stable, at between 8 to 10% over the past 10 years, their numbers could be growing in specific sectors such as private hire car services. The emergence of “sharing economy” platforms may also enable more people to take up freelancing as a secondary source of income.
  3. We have therefore initiated a new annual survey, starting in September last year, to gather more in-depth statistics on the changes in the freelancing landscape. This will help us better understand the profiles of freelancers, including whether they take up freelancing as a primary or secondary source of income, as well as the sectors and occupations they are in.  
  4. With the information from the survey, we will monitor more closely the workforce trends of the “sharing economy” and look into the issues that freelancers may face, including retirement adequacy.