Fair & inclusive work: PAP MPs speak up for gig workers, low-wage earners & mature PMEs March 1, 2023 The PAP Government is making strides in creating fairer and more inclusive workplaces for Singaporeans. S’pore is working towards a fairer & more inclusive workplace & we’re here for it Indeed, the issue is at the top of our MPs’ minds. During the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Committee of Supply debate today (Mar 1, 2023), many of our Party representatives spoke up for segments of our local workforce who are more vulnerable and often overlooked. Assuring mature PMEs Mr Patrick Tay (Pioneer SMC) highlighted mature PMEs (professionals, managers, and executives above the age of 40) who are anxious about the prospects of their employability. He gave three suggestions to MOM: 1. Extend the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) and restore the Career Support Programme to incentivise employers to hire mature workers.2. Introduce a mid-life career transition programme with individualised career coaching, advisory, and counselling to provide personalised guidance and support for mature workers.3. Raise the current S$4,000 salary cap of the Special Employment Credit to benefit more mature PMEs. Giving women workers channels to speak up about discrimination Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) devoted her cut to speaking up for women in the workplace: “In our latest February sensing with woman union leaders, 64 per cent agreed that discrimination is prevalent in their workplaces.” Women who are discriminated at work sometimes find it hard to articulate their grievances, or lack the right channels to do so, explained Ms Yeo, who also serves as Director of the NTUC’s U Women & Family unit. “We call on the Ministry to work with the labour movement in empowering and equipping our workers to be able to provide clear articulation of discrimination grievances, and seek clarification on how the Ministry will engage and support companies in effectively implementing workplace fairness practices.” Ensuring companies do not exploit low-wage workers With the Progressive Wage Model being extended to more industries, more of our low-wage workers are being uplifted in a sustainable manner. But with any policy, there can be instances of non-compliance, noted Mr Mohd Fahmi Bin Aliman (Marine Parade GRC) “This leaves low-wage workers susceptible to exploitation,” he said. “What measures are in place or to explore enforcement strategies or mechanisms to ensure that companies comply to PWM wages and other requirements?” Helping freelancers earn a fair wage Freelancers in Singapore often end up being price-takers, noted Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC), who called on MOM to uplift this group of workers for better job and income security and well being. “The freelancer community should be paid fairly based on their skills, contributions and track record.” But often time, this is not the case. Freelancers are held hostage by the market’s insistence on going with the lowest bidder. In some cases, they face constraints from the client’s side, such as pre-approved budget and paper work, said Ms Phua. “I urge MOM to facilitate the development of a procurement guide to ensure a sustainable win-win arrangement and fair compensation for the freelancer community.” Addressing the concerns of platform workers Ms Yeo also spoke up for platform workers, an increasing number of which are facing concerns over adequate retirement savings, health, safety nets and housing needs. “Our platform workers have voiced their concerns on how the introduction of CPF may affect their take-home earnings and subsequently their livelihoods,” said Ms Yeo, adding that the inclusion of the CPF transition support measure will help alleviate this concern. “Can the Ministry provide an update on the transitional support? “Further, we call on the Ministry to work closely with the labour movement and our platform associations to ensure that there’s fair apportionment of CPF contributions between the platform worker and the platform company.” Supporting workers who are caregivers “Having good health care and retirement funds are important, but none of these are substitute for time with the children,” said Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who asked the Government to legislate parent-care leave. “All public servants have had parent-care leave for over 10 years. It’s time to expand this to all workers.” Ms Rachel Ong (West Coast GRC) spoke for workers who are also caregivers of people with severe disabilities. “Caregivers of people with severe disabilities find great challenges in the work options that allow them to fulfil their ongoing caregiving responsibilities, while financially supporting the high medical expenses and future retirement needs for themselves in their wards.” These workers require flexible working arrangements so that they can juggle their caregiver duties. “I ask the Minister for Manpower, whether the Government could consider how (an arrangement similar to the UK’s Carer’s Passport) can be made for caregivers of people with severe disabilities who need to take FWAs (Flexible Work Arrangements) out of necessity. How may we continue to encourage companies to make flexible work arrangements available for a larger range of job competencies so that our caregivers can support themselves more sustainably?” Images via Facebook.