This is a guest post contributed by Ling.
But you should.
I mean, it involves channelling funding to government initiatives that could change your life, for good or for worse.
These debates usually happen in Parliament which no one really pays attention to.
I mean, the most memorable Parliament session will probably be Minister Khaw Boon Wan speaking about the Bishan MRT flooding incident.
That and spotting SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek seated in Parliament.
Here’s another Parliament session that you should listen to because it affects all working people in Singapore.
Several Labour MPs highlighted worker issues in Parliament yesterday.
Here are 7 things about Budget 2018 you should pay attention to if you’re working in Singapore.
1. Freelancers to get more protection
You love being your own boss. No one to listen to, freedom, your own deadlines, etc.
But it comes with disadvantages as well, like late payments (or no payments), loss of income during injury and being unable to save for retirement.
Mr Ang Hin Kee has called for more specific support and fairer practices for freelancers.
Today, there is no proper way to settle disputes and no insurance to protect freelancers against loss of income when they are injured.
That means if you’re sick and unable to work, you’ll starve.
Ang, who advocates for freelancers and the self-employed, hopes to set up a formalised structure for dispute resolution and make workplace injury insurance available.
2. Develop bite-size courses for on-the-go learning
You are contented with your job but you occasionally worry if your skills are “up-to-date”. After all, you’ve heard so many stories of old-timers being fired because they cannot keep up.
Your company sends you for training but because it takes up so much of your work time, you wish you didn’t have to go.
After all, even if you’re away for a course, your in-tray will still get filled.
Mr Patrick Tay, who advocates on issues concerning Professional, Managers & Executives (PMEs), said that the Labour Movement is developing bite-size and just-in-time learning modules.
For example, instead of a full 3-day course, you can learn the stuff through 2-3 minutes modules on the go.
That way, you won’t affect your busy schedule too much yet be able to stay competitive in the fast-changing economy.
For example, if there is a huge cybersecurity threat, cybersecurity practitioners can quickly update themselves on this issue within 24 hours through bite-size learning.
3. More support for low-income workers to retire adequately
If you have families or friends working in a low-income job like security or cleaning, you’d know that they’re living day to day.
Unlike people who will think, “I’m going to retire at 55 and I aim to be able to work for fun, not money after retirement.”
This group of people don’t have the luxury to think of such things. They struggle to make ends meet, no matter how hard they work.
Like working OT and coming in even if they’re sick. Saving for retirement is not their priority, living day by day is.
Mr Zainal Sapari called for more support to improve their retirement adequacy.
Currently, employers will reduce employees’ CPF contribution to 13% once they cross age 55 and it decreases progressively as they age.
He suggested a universal rate for employer’s CPF contribution till age 65 so low-wage workers can accumulate more savings for retirement.
Zainal, who speaks up for low-wage workers, also suggested a compulsory annual wage supplement (13th month) to boost their salaries by 8.3%.
For low-wage workers, every little bit helps.
4. To help S’poreans work longer if they can & choose to
Your ageing parents are fit as a fiddle and they prefer to work instead of retiring early.
Currently, the re-employment law empowers older workers to be re-employed at 62 till 67. However, the law limits them to work beyond 67 even if they’re able to work and choose to.
Mr Heng Chee How, who advocates for older worker issues, called for a review of the retirement age. He suggested forming a new tripartite committee to consider how to raise the employment rate of working people further, beyond 67.
Singapore is facing a serious ageing population.
If all of our parents choose to retire early, we will need to pay more taxes to support them.
5. Schools are still not doing enough for students
As a student, you do internships and rely on your lecturers to prepare you for work.
You expect the school to keep up with industry changes.
But that’s not good enough.
In a Young NTUC survey, 83 percent of 400 students in universities and private schools haven’t heard about industry transformation maps (ITM).
ITMs are roadmaps to transform industries and propel the economy into the future. Meaning, to keep up with disruptions in the economy.
Mr Desmond Choo is concerned that the industry by the time they graduate, the things they’ve studied so hard for is outdated.
Choo, who advocates on young worker issues, said that ITMs need to be better explained to businesses, workers and students so they can prepare themselves.
6. Review childcare subsidies, give mothers Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA)
Singaporean families can no longer survive on a single income. Both parents have to work in order to pay the bills.
You either rely on domestic helpers or childcare to look after your kids while you’re at work.
With so much financial commitments, you have no choice but to work.
It gets challenging when mums have to take more leave to care for their children when they fall sick.
And employers are not understanding enough to give them the support they need.
Some employers refuse to grant working mums flexible work arrangement (FWA).
Ms K Thanaletchimi, who advocates on women issues, called on the Government to consider mandating the right to request for FWA to help them juggle work and home.
Choo also urged the Government to consider making eldercare or family care leave mandatory in Singapore. He also asked to review childcare subsidies.
7. Make the workplace safe for the workers
If you’re working in the construction or manufacturing industry, you know that safety is important but not everyone makes it a priority.
There were lesser workplace deaths in 2017 but the number of major workplace accidents did not decline. Sadly, many of the accidents could have been prevented.
Mr Melvin Yong, who advocates on WSH matters, asked if Singapore should consider a mandatory Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) officer in every company and make it compulsory for companies to appoint a WSH representative as part of the certification for BizSAFE Level 3.
He also pushed for the “Return-To-Work” programme to be extended to larger corporations. This will help injured workers to return to work seamlessly.
Spread the word
Now you know the importance of Budget 2018 besides hong bao and GST hike? There are policies currently being debated on that can make your life better or worse.
Share this article with your family and friends to keep them updated about Budget 2018.
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