As Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong, during the National Day Rally 2021, aptly put it: “Economic growth is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It must be inclusive growth that benefits all Singaporeans, so that we can all fulfil our aspirations, and see our children live better lives than ourselves.” The responsibility is on our shoulders to build a more inclusive workforce, not just the Government’s. It is about time we refocus on rebuilding our economy and supporting our low wage workers in Singapore.
The Current Challenge
The community of low wage workers are more susceptible to being laid off and remains vulnerable despite the many grants and reliefs available. To address this pressing issue, the Government formed the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices or TAFEP for a fairer, anti-discrimination, and unbiased employment across all industries. This is backed up by the anti-discrimination laws that carry penalties.
Following the Rally, Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Head of the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers Mr Zaqy Mohamad released his proposal to extend and expand the Progressive Wage Model, which was accepted by the Government.
The Progressive Wage Model
This Model primarily “helps to increase wages of workers through upgrading skills and improving productivity.” The expansion of the model covers three new sectors, namely the retail sector (effective 1 September 2022), and food services and waste management sectors (both effective 1 March 2023).
Effective 1 September 2022, the extension will include cleaning, security, and landscape sectors to cover in-house workers. This new phase will also introduce progressive wages to office administrators and drivers that will take effect from 1 March 2023.
Another significant change is the conversion of progressive wages and local qualifying salary to hourly rates. The pay out of this new arrangement will be based on hourly rates which the employees have clocked in, may it be part time or overtime work hours.
The work pass system will ensure employers’ pay outs are based on progressive wages and local qualifying salaries before they can engage any foreign workers. This is in addition to the current sectorial licensing requirements.
Finally, the Progressive Wage Mark (PW Mark) will be introduced to help corporate buyers and individual consumers recognise firms that pay base on progressive wages.
With the introduction of these new amendments, the nation can expect fairer, unbiased employment opportunities with a well-supported framework.
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