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Oral Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to PQ on helping gig economy workers access group medical insurance and save for retirement and home ownership

NOTICE PAPER NO. 1988 OF 2020 FOR THE SITTING ON 18 FEBRUARY 2020
QUESTION NO. 3468 FOR ORAL ANSWER

MP: Ms Foo Mee Har

To ask the Minister for Manpower what plans are in place to help gig economy workers access group medical insurance as well as save for retirement and home ownership.

Answer

  1. Over the past decade, the share of persons who were engaged in self-employment as their main source of income has remained stable at 8% to 10% of our resident workforce.
  2. In 2017, the Government set up a Tripartite Workgroup on self-employed persons (SEPs)[1]. Since March 2018, we have been implementing the Workgroup’s recommendations to address SEPs’ challenges.
  3. Today, all SEPs are already covered under Medishield Life against large hospital bills. SEPs’ concerns were more about their loss of income when they fall sick for prolonged periods. To mitigate this, we worked with insurers to make available Prolonged Medical Leave (PML) insurance products. Today, major intermediaries like Grab and Gojek provide PML insurance coverage at no additional cost to their regular drivers. The National Instructors and Coaches Association also offers discounted PML insurance for their members. We encourage more service-buyers and associations to support their SEPs with such insurance coverage.
  4. In addition, Government agencies have taken the lead to implement the “Contribute-as-you-Earn” (CAYE) pilot, where SEPs contribute to their MediSave accounts as they receive payment for their services. Like regular employees, SEPs can save for home ownership and retirement through the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system. They can do so by making voluntary CPF contributions, and benefit from the higher-than-market interest rates.
  5. Lower-income SEPs receive additional support through the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) Scheme. WIS encourages lower-income workers to stay employed and strengthen their retirement adequacy. Each year, more than 40,000 SEPs receive WIS. We have recently enhanced WIS for SEPs by increasing the qualifying income ceiling from $2,000 to $2,300, and maximum annual payouts from $2,400 to $2,667.

FOOTNOTE

  1. SEPs here refer to own account workers who operate their own business without hiring any paid employees. It does not include other self-employed categories such as ‘employers’ and ‘contributing family workers’.