Speech by Minister of State Zaqy Mohamad at Launch of 2018 WorkRight Roadshow
Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for Manpower, Toa Payoh HDB Hub
Ladies and gentlemen
- A very good morning to all. I am happy to join you today at the launch of the WorkRight roadshow this year. This is the first of a series of roadshows that will be held till December throughout Singapore.
WorkRight – Protecting Your Employment Rights
Launched in 2012, the WorkRight initiative aims to improve compliance with the Employment Act and the CPF Act through enforcement and education. These two prongs are carried out through workplace inspections, publicity campaigns and outreach activities to help workers and employers understand their rights and obligations under our employment laws.
- Over the last six years, we have proactively conducted more than 28,000 workplace inspections, averaging 5,000 inspections per year. This has helped more than 80,000 Singaporeans receive their due employment rights, such as timely payment of salary, correct payment for overtime work done, and payment of CPF contributions. Half of those assisted were low-wage workers in sectors such as cleaning, retail and F&B, where a high proportion of low-wage workers are employed.
- Ms Thiva, a restaurant worker who works 10 hours a day, is one such worker we had helped. During a workplace visit in 2017, our WorkRight inspectors discovered that her employer had misclassified her as a manager, and Thiva was not paid for 2 months’ worth of overtime work. Thanks to WorkRight, her employer is now doing it right. The case was subsequently investigated by MOM, and Thiva recovered over $2,000 for the overtime arrears.
Most Employers Ensure Workers Get Their Rights
- Through our inspections, we are encouraged to see that more employers are aware and do adhere to employment laws. Today, 8 in 10 employers inspected are compliant with the Employment Act and CPF Act, compared to 7 in 10 five years ago. These inspections serve to educate employers on employment laws and ensure that they fulfil their responsibilities towards their workers.
- The data and observations from our inspections have also helped us detect and intervene early in instances of non-compliance by Small and Medium Enterprises or SMEs. For example, we realised that many SMEs lack human resource capabilities that could help them adhere to employment laws. This is why we developed a WorkRight Self-Help Toolkit, which includes useful templates and samples of key employment terms, timesheet and itemised payslips. The toolkit also outlines 6 simple steps which employers, especially those from SMEs, can follow to comply with our employment laws. Every employer is given the toolkit during our workplace inspections.
- One such employer who rectified his employment practices was Mr Voo Weng Siong, a director of Boo Kim Siong Tyre & Battery Trading, an SME dealing with the sale of tyres and batteries for motor vehicles. During our inspection in 2017, we discovered that one of his workers was underpaid for working overtime as there was no proper record of his working hours. With guidance from our WorkRight inspector, Mr Voo took immediate steps to implement the correct method of calculating his workers’ overtime pay. He was very appreciative of the WorkRight initiative as he gained a better understanding of his responsibilities as an employer. His worker was also able to recover his overtime pay of about $2,000.
Raising Awareness through Campaigns & Outreach Activities
- Besides proactive inspections, we have also been raising awareness of employment rights and obligations among employees and employers through campaigns and outreach activities, such as today’s roadshow. Since 2012, over 100,000 residents have attended our annual roadshows at various heartland locations across Singapore. This is part of our efforts to bring WorkRight closer to the ground, especially to Singaporean low-wage workers who work and stay in the heartlands.
A signature of our roadshows is the ‘WorkRight on the Move’ mobile clinic, which was launched in 2015. MOM and CPF Board officers are stationed at these clinics to provide advice on employment-related enquiries and complaints. Over three years, we have organised 38 mobile clinics around Singapore and addressed about 2,500 residents’ enquiries on employment rights. Top enquiries include issues relating to leave entitlement, overtime pay and adhering to the working hours stipulated under the Employment Act.
Launch of “Know it, Share it. Let’s WorkRight!” 2018 Campaign
- Building on what we have achieved in the last six years through the WorkRight brand, I’m excited to launch the next phase of the movement with a new tagline: “Know it, Share it. Let’s WorkRight!” We want encourage workers and employers, who are now aware of their employment rights and responsibilities, to spread the message and start empowering others with the knowledge they have. Through this, we hope to inspire them to drive positive change by helping workers who are denied their statutory rights as well as employers to rectify non-compliance.
- I am glad to see strong support from our partners participating in the roadshow today, including the National Trades Union Congress, People’s Association, Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management and Workforce Singapore. They are here to provide you with a one-stop shop for employment-related assistance at our WorkRight roadshows. I encourage all of you to take this opportunity to visit our mobile clinic if you have questions on your employment rights or obligations. Our WorkRight consultants will be happy to assist you.
- With that, I hope everybody will help to spread the word to your family, friends and co-workers, because if you “Know it, Share it. Let’s WorkRight!”.