Skip to main content

0802 Oral Answer by Senior Minister of State, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, to PQ on Workfare and SEPs




MP: Mr Leon Perera


To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) to date, what is the number of self-employed persons (SEPs) who could have qualified for Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) but are unable to do so because of their lack of MediSave contributions; and (b) whether the Government will consider providing concessions for SEPs to qualify for WIS by having their MediSave eligibility temporarily lowered in light of the COVID-19 crisis or having their MediSave contributions spaced out.




  1. The Workfare Income Supplement Scheme tops up the incomes of our lower-wage workers, both employees and self-employed persons (SEPs). Eligible SEPs receive up to $2,667 in Workfare payouts a year.
  2. All lower-wage employees and SEPs are required to contribute to CPF to benefit from Workfare. This is because Workfare is a permanent scheme. The need to meet CPF obligations is part of Workfare’s eligibility criteria and is consistently applied to both employees and SEPs. This ensures that workers continue to take personal responsibility in saving for their longer-term retirement and healthcare needs, while receiving Government support via Workfare.
  3. SEPs are only required to contribute to their MediSave accounts after declaring their incomes at the end of the Work Year. They have up to two years to do so. Based on latest available data, among SEPs who met all other Workfare criteria for Work Year 2018, 9 in 10 fulfilled the required MediSave contributions and received their Workfare payouts. Complete data on WIS SEP recipients for Work Year 2019 and 2020 are not available, as SEPs have up till 31 December 2021 and 31 December 2022 respectively to make their required MediSave contributions to receive Workfare.
  4. Within the two-year period, SEPs can also choose the mode of payment that best suits their circumstances. SEPs can pay either as a lump-sum or via monthly GIRO instalments. The CPF Board also exercises flexibility to help SEPs who are facing financial difficulties, such as reducing monthly instalments by extending the GIRO arrangement, or temporarily deferring monthly instalments. We also consider exceptional appeals on a case-by-case basis. Once the SEP makes the required MediSave contributions in full, they will receive their Workfare payout.
  5. We recognise that this is a difficult period. SEPs who are facing significant income loss and require urgent financial assistance may apply for the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s COVID-19 Recovery Grant (CRG) or COVID-19 Recovery Grant – Temporary (CRG-T). Taxi and private hire car drivers are also receiving additional financial support from the Land Transport Authority’s COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF).