Help On Hand For Workers, Companies.

Articles by The Straits Times


In a year when many workers felt unsure about their job prospects and businesses felt the strain of a slowing economy, various measures were rolled out to help them.

For older workers, from July 1 next year, companies have to re-employ them until they turn 67, or give them one-off payments.

For low-wage workers, new wage ladders kicked in for those in the security and landscaping sectors.

These set a minimum pay and tie pay levels to skills upgrading.

The wage ladder for the cleaning sector was also updated, and many cleaners can see their basic wages go up yearly over the next six years.

This is welcome news to cleaners like Mr Khoo Eng Chye, 59, who said the increments will help make up for a $700 pay cut after he was retrenched from his previous job as a wiring repairman. He said: “At our age, it’s hard to find a job.”

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari said the wage ladders, called the Progressive Wage Model, will help push up wages in sectors with similar manual skills, such as those of hospital attendants and postmen.

Other low-wage workers can also expect greater support. The income ceiling for Workfare Income Supplement payouts is up from $1,900 to $2,000, starting from next month.

Payouts will also increase and be made monthly instead of quarterly.

Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) received more help, too.

The Career Support Programme, which gives wage support to companies hiring long-term unemployed Singaporean PMETs, was widened to cover all workers instead of just older ones, as well as those 40 and over as soon as they lose their jobs.

More funding was also pumped into launching professional conversion programmes to help workers switch industries or specialisations.

And from Jan 1 next year, employers will have to notify the Manpower Ministry of retrenchments within five working days, so agencies can help laid-off workers faster.

Said NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay, who heads a new unit to look at future job opportunities: “We have rolled out a series of measures and interventions which will require time and the close cooperation and contributions of our tripartite partners and society to ensure we are able to navigate through uncertainties.”

Companies also got support for their restructuring efforts.

Industry transformation maps for 23 industries, from food manufacturing to hotels to precision engineering, are being rolled out to make them more innovative, competitive and manpower-lean in a more challenging economy. Businesses could also tap schemes like the Automation Support Package to get grants and loans for equipment to boost productivity.

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