Been following the Budget announcements last week? Happy with the angpows like us? But for working people of Singapore, let’s face it: payouts are good, but what’s even better is better pay, and better jobs, isn’t it?
This week, Members of Parliament including Labour MPs have been sharing their views at the Budget 2023 Debate.
Better Support for Employment
Schemes to enhance employment support are set to be rolled out in order to further help workers. 2022 was probably a difficult year for us common folks. But surprisingly, the resident unemployment rate actually fell to 2.8% in December 2022— that’s lower than it was pre-pandemic.
DPM Wong said that inflation levels were slated to remain high, and informed us that the best strategy to combat this is to be more “productive and competitive”.
Despite better employment figures, there would always be uncertainties; I mean, just a few months ago, I didn’t expect ChatGPT to threaten my livelihood as a writer.
The answer? Upskill, and reskill if need be!
To support workers’ training, during Budget 2023 Debate, NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Desmond Tan called on the government to consider protected training leave for employees and review training funds and allowances, to help workers alleviate their concerns about lack of time and finances, and opportunity cost when attending training.
Patrick Tay, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General, also shared a threefold approach with the three F’s to support workers:
- Financial support to cushion displaced workers in the short-term
- Facilitated employment and training to upgrade workers and help them seize opportunities in the new economy
- Fair access to PME roles, to allow our local PMEs to compete with foreign PMEs, regardless of age, on a level playing field and boost local PMEs’ employment outcomes
Some of these, such as the short-term financial support, are part of the recommendations presented by the joint NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce.
Additional Support for Senior Workers
Working seniors will benefit from having the Senior Employment Credit extended till 2025 in order to encourage employers to hire them.
This basically provides a payout for each senior employee aged 55 and above, and earning up to $4,000 a month.
The Part-time Re-employment Grant will be extended as well to offer more work arrangements to senior workers. This provides funding support of up to $125,000 to employers that commit to a part-time re-employment policy for their eligible senior workers.
Don’t be surprised when the newly-hired uncle at your job shows up with more “rizz” than you.
NTUC launched the Company Training Committee (CTC) in 2019 in order to better support workers through company training. NTUC’s e2i is also committed to working closely with the government to support jobseekers.
To help companies understand the skill gaps workers may have in their specific industries, the Government will make use of Jobs-Skills Integrators to optimise job training and job placement.
In other words, as long as you’re willing to learn, you’d have the opportunity to do so!
Better Support for Lower Wage Workers
There are many schemes to enhance employment support, and we’ll cover the gist of it here:
You might remember the announcement of the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme in Budget 2022 in order to provide support for businesses transitioning to a progressive wage for their lower-wage workers.
In 2023, the government will keep co-funding up to 75% of the pay increase for workers earning up to $2,500 a month, and a lower co-funding percentage will be offered for workers earning between $2,500 and $3,000 per year.
NTUC’s Desmond Tan also shared that the PWM has steadily expanded into 7 sectors and 2 occupations. Together with the LQS, which is set at $1,400, lower-wage workers can also receive a Workfare Income Supplement of up to $350 per month. PWM and LQS combined already cover a wide base of 94% of all lower-wage workers within this year. The work goes on…
Now, let’s address the scheme that everyone’s talking about: CPF.
Budget 2023 has made some adjustments to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) in order to help Singaporeans retire. There are three main changes, listed here:
CPF for Platform Workers
CPF is for everyone, even your jobless, unmarried uncle who gives unsolicited job and relationship advice at Chinese New Year gatherings. So of course platform workers must be included in the scheme.
Budget 2023 rolls out CPF for platform workers—essentially, workers who employ online platforms to offer their services but are not employees of the platform, like food delivery workers.
To address the concerns about this affecting their take-home pay (lest you didn’t know, currently, 20% of contribution comes from workers’ gross income), lower-income platform workers will receive additional support with a scheme called the CPF Transitory Support, which basically means increased CPF contributions for the first four years after it’s implemented.
The government estimates that implementation will commence in the later part of 2024 at the earliest, but the exact dates will be released later in the coming months.
Increase in CPF Contribution Rates
CPF contribution rates have already been increased twice since last year, but they’re set to increase again by 1.5 percentage points for older workers aged 55-70 years old, in order to help them prepare adequately for retirement.
The CPF monthly salary ceiling (or the maximum amount payable for ordinary wages) is set to be increased as well, from $6,000 to $8,000. This will be bumped up progressively by 2026. The CPF annual salary ceiling, however, will remain the same.
I really hope I’m affected by this new change~
Higher Monthly Payouts
For seniors on the Retirement Sum Scheme instead of CPF life, the minimum monthly payout is increasing from $250 to $350. That’s a whole $100 more at least to put to good use, like by playing mahjong with other ah-mas over the hottest neighbourhood tea.
Now that we’ve covered people who have work…how about those who are looking for work-life balance?
Singapore is not exactly known for the work-life balance it offers.
However, the Government is taking steps to remedy that so that Singaporeans can spend more time with their family or well, maybe on family planning. To boost our birth rate and protect the family unit, the government is rolling out new initiatives to support parents.
Working Mother’s Child Relief
If you don’t fancy giving up your job to take care of a kid, more support is available for mothers in employment.
The amended Working Mother’s Child Relief offers lower-to-middle income mothers support in the form of tax relief between $8,000 and $12,000. This will take effect from 1 January 2024.
Increased Parental Leave Provisions
Fathers are now expected to be increasingly involved in their child’s life—gone are the days of your dad putting child care off to his wife.
Government-Paid Paternity Leave will be doubled to four weeks for Singaporean fathers whose children are born on or after 1 January 2024. That’s two extra glorious weeks of spending all day with a crying infant—if your boss can release you, that is.
Increased Unpaid Infant Care Leave
To allow parents to spend time with their children apart from supervising homework after a long day of work, Unpaid Infant Care Leave will be increased to 12 days per year, doubled from the 6 days right now.
This allows parents more time to settle caregiving arrangements, and parents with Singaporean children under 2 years old are eligible from 1 January 2024.
Cost of Living Assistance
Okay, we leave this last because come on: you’d know about this.
If not, here’s a recap for you to feel shiok again.
Budget 2023 announced the enhancement of the Permanent GST Voucher Scheme (GSTV), so you’d get slightly more this year.
Lest you’re not aware, GST voucher is to offset GST, not the GST hike. You can watch this video to learn more:
The cash payout over the remaining five years of the Assurance Package is set to increase—between $700 to $2,250 in cash will be given out. Every adult Singaporean with less than two properties is also eligible to receive a Cost-of-Living Special Payment in the range of $200 to $400.
For that, you can use MOF’s new platform to calculate how much you’d be getting.
Feedback? NTUC is Listening
Budget 2023, themed “moving forward in the new era”, is set to help Singaporeans seize new opportunities, strengthen the country’s social compact, and give assurance to families.
For workers, it presents changes that organisations like the NTUC has been pushing for over the years.
If you’re desperate to give a voice to your strong opinions on Budget 2023, especially on matters about working in Singapore, you can share your thoughts at conversations.ntuc.sg.
This article was first published on Goody Feed and written in collaboration with NTUC.