Speech at WorkRight Roadshow
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower , Tampines Mall Level 4 Open Plaza
- A very good afternoon to all of you. I am happy to be here at the first WorkRight Roadshow, put together by my colleagues from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB) and Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).
- You may recall watching a TV commercial about a cleaner who received her salary late, did not get her CPF and had her pay cut when she took MC? That advertisement was part of our efforts to improve public awareness of employment rights. Under the WorkRight initiative which was launched jointly by MOM and CPFB last year, we want workers to know their employment rights, and employers to be aware of their obligations under our employment laws.
- Today marks the first of a series of WorkRight roadshows held at different locations throughout November. The aim is to spread greater awareness of the WorkRight initiative. I would like to thank our industry partners, including SNEF and NTUC, for supporting the roadshows.
WorkRight Protects Your Income and CPF Contributions
- Whether you are working full-time, part-time, or intend to take up casual or contract work during Christmas in December or Chinese New Year in January next year, it is important to be fully aware of your rights as a worker. Why do I say this?
- During my weekly Meet the People session, some of my residents shared with me that they often work long hours and have little time to spend with their family. I am not sure how many of them are aware that they are entitled to overtime allowance, which is payable at 1.5 times their basic hourly rate. This is if they work beyond 44 hours a week. So, I try to tell them to check if they are getting the right pay, because if not, they could be losing out on the additional salary and CPF contributions they are entitled to.
- Some of our fellow Singaporeans told me they prefer not to have CPF so that they can have higher take-home pay. I understand their struggles to cope with the daily cost of living. However, they do not realise that when they fall outside the CPF system, they will not be able to receive Workfare Income Supplement (WIS), and top-ups to their CPF Medisave account.
- Some other workers face a different set of challenges. These include low-wage Singaporeans who do not have adequate rest from work or are not being paid salary on time. This means they may not be able to spend quality time with their families or meet family expenses.
WorkRight Helps Over 22,000 Singaporeans
- All these underscore the importance of workers understanding their employment rights. Beyond educating workers, we also need to take enforcement action against errant companies which are not giving workers their dues. Since last year, we stepped up our enforcement efforts. I am pleased to share with you that WorkRight has helped over 22,000 Singaporeans, and about 13,000 of them are low-income workers. These are our fellow Singaporeans who were previously denied basic employment rights such as timely payment of salary, CPF contributions or overtime allowance. Thanks to WorkRight, their employers are now doing it right – MOM has taken action against them and they have rectified their employment practices.
- MOM and CPFB officers also investigate complaints received about non-compliant employers. One worker who called the WorkRight hotline is Mr Ang Peng Soon, a delivery driver with a retail company, who was owed a few months of salary arrears. He called the hotline in March this year to share his plight. After MOM’s intervention, he recovered his salary arrears of over $7,000.
- Another Singaporean who benefitted from WorkRight’s intervention is Mr Teo Poon Sang, who works as a cleaner for more than 11 hours a day. He too called the WorkRight hotline when his former employer under-paid his salary, and did not pay him for working overtime. MOM intervened and helped him recover overtime pay and CPF contributions of over $1,000. The employer was also reminded to pay all his cleaners overtime allowance at 1.5 times of basic pay and applies for work done beyond 44 hours a week.
- Please join me in thanking our WorkRight team who have made a positive difference to low-wage Singaporean workers and their families through their enforcement efforts.
Most Employers are Responsible
- Listening to the examples I just described, you might think that all employers are trying to short-change their workers. There are some employers who deliberately flout the law, but the majority are responsible. There are also a handful who are genuinely unaware of their obligations under our employment laws. We have therefore also stepped up our efforts to educate this group of employers.
- An example is Long Life Stationery Pte Ltd. The employer was not aware of all their obligations under our employment laws. After a WorkRight inspection, Long Life Stationery rectified areas of non-compliance swiftly and made good any owed amount of salary and CPF contributions related to overtime pay for their 12 local workers. The employer’s willingness to remedy its oversight promptly is the responsible thing to do.
- Another employer, XpressFlower.com Pte Ltd, also responded promptly to intervention by the WorkRight team. After the inspection, the company amended employment contracts to provide for the correct number of days of sick leave for their 23 local workers.
WorkRight Roadshows are Timely for Casual and Contract Workers
- This month, we will be holding four WorkRight roadshows across Singapore, one on each weekend of the month. In addition to today’s roadshow, the other roadshows will be held at Bishan Junction 8 (on 16 November); Bukit Batok West Mall (on 24 November); and Woodlands Civic Centre (on 30 November).
- As we approach the festive season, employers may hire more casual or contract workers to meet the increase in business demand. You may be surprised to know that casual and contract workers are also entitled to their employement rights. Our WorkRight roadshows are thus timely, as they raise awareness of such rights. We have a WorkRight Advisory Booth at the roadshows, to advise workers about these rights.
- We all work hard for our family. We all want to get our rightful dues, and this is particularly important for our low-wage Singaporean workers. That is what WorkRight aims to ensure, and this is the role our WorkRight education and enforcement drive will continue to play.
- I hope you will find this WorkRight roadshow useful, and please spread the word to your family and friends about what their employment rights are. Thank you.