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Ministry of Manpower's Addendum to the President's Address 2020

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges in our employment landscape. Jobs and livelihoods have been affected. We will help workers and companies tackle the immediate challenges to emerge stronger. Before COVID-19, we had been preparing workers and employers for the future of work. These efforts must now shift to even higher gear. We will deepen and expand efforts to ensure fairness at work, with a focus on giving every worker a chance to be meaningfully employed, and fostering an inclusive workforce and progressive workplaces. 

    A Fair Chance for Meaningful Employment

    100,000 Jobs & Skills Opportunities

  2. The National Jobs Council will spearhead the Whole-of-Government effort to bring together 100,000 jobs and skills opportunities through the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. Our economic agencies will press on with industry transformation to keep as many Singaporeans as possible in jobs, and create new jobs to make up for job losses. 

  3. Workforce Singapore and its partners will strive to open up pathways for every newly displaced worker to return to meaningful employment: 

    Fair Hiring and Fair Retrenchment for Singaporeans

    1. We will work with employers to make jobs available to jobseekers willing to acquire new skills, through heavily subsidised training and the Jobs Growth Incentive. Where employers remain cautious about hiring, we will support them to host traineeships and attachments, by co-funding the training allowance with host organisation. This will allow jobseekers to gain industry-relevant skills and be better positioned for economic recovery. We will give stronger support to employers that favourably consider middle-aged and mature workers. 

    2. We will intensify efforts to help Singaporeans in their job search. We will expand our offerings and improve accessibility through:
      1. SGUnited Jobs & Skills Centres across all HDB towns;
      2. Enhanced Digital Career Matching Services;
      3. Private sector employment agencies serving as SGUnited Jobs & Skills Placement Partners. 

  4. Singaporeans, regardless of age, race, gender, must have a fair chance at job opportunities. While employment rates have risen for mature workers, women and ethnic minorities, we must remain vigilant and build on the gains. 

  5. Our foreign workforce policies have been designed to support economic growth, so as to create good jobs for Singaporeans. There is regular calibration, to enable firms to access the manpower they need while ensuring a strong Singaporean core. In the last decade, we have also made policy adjustments to spur businesses to upgrade productivity. 

  6. Through expanded opportunities, nearly six in 10 locals in the workforce today are employed in professional, managerial, executive and technician (PMET) jobs, among the highest in the world. For every Employment Pass (EP) holder, there are nearly seven locals employed in PMET roles. However, with COVID-19 and the economic disruption it has caused, there is now more slack in the labour market. We will therefore make further adjustments to our foreign workforce policies, including raising the salary criteria for EP and S Passes, to reflect the changed conditions. 

  7. Even as we stay open to the world to accelerate our recovery, the crisis makes it all the more important that employers give fair treatment to Singaporeans. They should also seek to achieve greater diversity within their EP and S Pass workforce where practical. We will ensure that employers uphold both the letter and spirit of the Fair Consideration Framework. We will closely examine retrenchment exercises to ensure they are carried out fairly.

  8. Businesses that bring in skills in short supply or new networks of opportunity for Singapore will always remain welcome. At the same time, we will require businesses to invest more effort to develop and strengthen their Singaporean core. 

    Fostering an Inclusive and Healthy Workforce 

    A Fairer Relationship between Service-Buyers, Intermediaries and Self-Employed Persons

  9. COVID-19 has accentuated the fast-changing nature of employment, and the uncertainty for those who are self-employed to find consistent work. This affects their income stability and ability to save regularly for retirement and healthcare needs. 

  10. We will continue to implement the recommendations of the Tripartite Workgroup on Self-Employed Persons (SEPs). We have piloted the contribute-as-you-earn model earlier this year to help SEPs make small and regular Medisave contributions. We aim to reduce payment-related disputes, mitigate the loss of income due to prolonged illness or injury, and support SEPs in their skills needs. We will further review the responsibilities of service-buyers and intermediaries to bring about a fairer and more balanced relationship with their self-employed workers. 

    Uplifting Wages Through the Progressive Wage Model 

  11. Uplifting wages at the lower end remains a key priority. In sectors like cleaning, security and landscaping where the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) has been fully implemented, full-time workers have seen their gross monthly incomes increase by around 30% in the last five years, much higher than median wages. When enhancements to Workfare are included, the gains are even larger. 

  12. In the context of the current downturn and very uncertain outlook for the economy, our overriding objective is to ensure continued employment opportunities for these workers. Over time, we will expand the PWM to more sectors, in a manner that is practical and ensures we preserve low levels of local unemployment.

  13. This effort to raise wages at the lower end will require long-term commitment and new mindsets among employers, service buyers and society at large. We may have to pay slightly more for services, so that lower-income workers are able to take on better jobs and earn higher wages. Together with the Government’s support for lower-income workers through Workfare and other schemes, it will help us mitigate inequalities and strengthen our social compact.

    A Fair Support System 

  14. We will undertake regular reviews of Workfare and Silver Support. Workfare payouts were raised from January 2020 to uplift more workers. The enhanced Silver Support will provide higher payouts and help 100,000 more seniors with lesser means, covering up to one in three of our elderly. 

  15. To better support persons with disabilities (PwDs), we introduced the Enabling Employment Credit (EEC) which will cover about four in five of current PwD employees. There is also an additional wage offset when employers hire PwDs who have not been working for at least six months.

  16. We will continue to look out for gaps in our social safety nets, and enhance support in sustainable ways, and ensure every Singaporean who makes the effort gets a fair chance to bounce back from employment setbacks.

    A Greater Focus on Well-Being of the Workforce

  17. COVID-19 has led to individuals facing considerable stress. We will need a renewed focus on the health and wellness of the entire workforce. We will forge partnerships with Trade Associations & Chambers, Non-Governmental Organisations and professional bodies, to broaden and strengthen the network of support for our workers.

  18. We will also build on the experience of managing and safeguarding the well-being of migrant workers during the pandemic. We have set up a new operating unit the Assurance, Care & Engagement (ACE) Group to take over and continue the work of the Inter-Agency Task Force. 

  19. Over the last five months, the Task Force has provided assurance to migrant workers at the dormitories and cleared the dormitories of COVID-19 infection. The new ACE Group will ensure dormitories and other migrant worker housing are safe and resilient against public health threats, by building a stronger system of medical support for migrant workers. It will also partner with the community and migrant worker groups to meet the social needs of workers.

  20. As important as it is to safeguard the health and wellness of our workers, we must also ensure the higher costs are sustainable. In particular, we will carefully consider the cost-sharing model for higher standards in migrant worker dormitories and develop an insurance programme to help employers manage unexpectedly large medical expenses of their migrant workers.

    Championing Family-Friendly Workplaces

  21. The “new normal” brought about by COVID-19 provides a great opportunity to review workplace practices and entrench more flexible work arrangements (FWAs). This will serve public health objectives and improve business continuity, and work-life harmony (WLH). 

  22. We will implement the Citizens’ Panel’s recommendations to support employers to offer FWAs and WLH initiatives and promote greater awareness through diagnostic tools, ambassadors and recognising progressive employers.

    Working with Tripartite Partners to Instil Fairness at Work

  23. Our tripartite partners are jointly committed to working closely with Singaporeans to overcome the economic and labour market challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help our workers and business succeed, we will continue to uphold fair opportunities, fair hiring, fair competition and fair support for everyone to progress at every stage of their working lives. In collaboration with the whole-of-society as part of the SG Together movement, we can and will emerge stronger from this crisis as a cohesive society.