Oral Answer by Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on casual workers
NOTICE PAPER NO. 1663 OF 2019 FOR THE SITTING ON 8 MAY 2019
QUESTION NO. 2791 FOR ORAL ANSWER
NMP: Ms Anthea Ong
To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry can conduct an in-depth study on legal protection for casual workers in other jurisdictions with the view of developing a new framework on the rights and benefits of casual workers given the rise in number of such workers in recent years.
- Casual work employees, whose working days or hours are not fixed, make up a small and declining share of the workforce. They constituted 3.4% of resident employees in 2018, down from 5.1% in 2009.
- All employees, including casual work employees, are covered by Singapore’s various employment-related legislation such as the Employment Act and Central Provident Fund (CPF) Act. Therefore, like regular employees, casual work employees are entitled to timely payment of salary, CPF and protection against wrongful dismissal. They are also entitled to paid annual and sick leave if they have been employed for at least three months.
- Other jurisdictions might have seen an increase in the number of self-employed persons (SEPs) engaging in casual work. In Singapore, we cannot equate SEPs with casual workers. For example, taxi drivers are self-employed but work regular shifts. Nonetheless, the proportion of SEPs who did self-employed work as their main job has remained stable at 8% to 10% of our resident workforce over the past decade. In fact, there was a drop in the number of SEPs last year, due in part to the tighter job market. Our surveys show that many SEPs choose to be self-employed for greater flexibility and autonomy.
- In 2017, MOM convened a Tripartite Workgroup on SEPs. The workgroup consulted extensively with SEPs and other stakeholders such as SEP associations and service-buyers, and considered practices in other jurisdictions. Its recommendations are being systematically implemented.
- First, the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) launched its voluntary mediation services last year to assist SEPs in resolving disputes. The tripartite partners are also encouraging adoption of the Tripartite Standard on Contracting with SEPs and the key terms of engagement form template to minimise disputes. Second, we made available prolonged medical leave insurance products for SEPs to enhance their protection. Third, we are working with tripartite partners and SEP associations to ensure that SEPs have access to both technical and non-technical skills training. Lastly, we will be introducing a “Contribute-As-You-Earn” model to make it easier for SEPs to save for their healthcare needs. The Government, as a service-buyer, will take the lead to pilot this savings model next year.
- For those seeking alternatives to casual work or self-employment, there is a wide range of support under the Government’s Adapt and Grow initiative. They can approach career centres run by Workforce Singapore and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute for assistance.