Budget 2013: $170m fund to promote work-life harmony, retain local workers

The Manpower Ministry is consolidating the work of three programmes into a mega programme called WorkPro to promote work-life harmony. Some $170 million will be spent over three years to help employers with this, as well as to encourage employers to hire and retain back-to-work locals and mature workers.

Minister of State (Manpower), Amy Khor announced this new fund in Parliament on Thursday and noted that small and medium enterprises will form 70 per cent of the companies that will benefit from the new WorkPro.

Some $100 million of the fund will be set aside to encourage employers to implement flexible-work arrangements. Among the grants is one which gives employers up to $40,000 to implement work-life strategies.

There will also be support for employers who hire and retain back-to-work locals and mature workers. Companies will get up to $300,000 of help each to redesign jobs, and if they do not know where to start, they can even apply for funding to get professional help with this.

Dr Khor also announced a new retention incentive of up to to $2,000 for each newly hired back-to-work local or mature worker earning below $4,500. This will encourage employers to recruit and retain this segment of workers, she said.

As some workers re-entering the workforce may need on-the-job training, WorkPro will provide employers with on-the-job training allowance equivalent to one month's salary and capped at $2,000 for each back-to-work local employee.

And to incentivise back-to-work locals to stay on the job, those earning less than $4,500 will also receive a retention bonus of up to $1,200 if they remain employed with the company for over a year, added Dr Khor.