Debate on ministries' budgets: Manpower

From The Backbench

MR CHEN SHOW MAO (Aljunied GRC).
MR CHEN SHOW MAO (Aljunied GRC).
MR PATRICK TAY (West Coast GRC).
MR PATRICK TAY (West Coast GRC).
DR INTAN AZURA MOKHTAR ( Ang Mo Kio GRC).
DR INTAN AZURA MOKHTAR ( Ang Mo Kio GRC).
MR YEE CHIA HSING (Chua Chu Kang GRC).
MR YEE CHIA HSING (Chua Chu Kang GRC).
NOMINATED MP LIM SUN SUN.
NOMINATED MP LIM SUN SUN.
MS DENISE PHUA (Jalan Besar GRC).
MS DENISE PHUA (Jalan Besar GRC).
MR ZAINAL SAPARI (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).
MR ZAINAL SAPARI (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).
NOMINATED MP ANTHEA ONG.
NOMINATED MP ANTHEA ONG.

MR CHEN SHOW MAO (Aljunied GRC)

Have gig workers contribute more to CPF

Provide gig workers with "strong incentives" to make voluntary contributions to all their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts, Mr Chen suggested.

He proposed having a default arrangement where CPF deductions beyond Medisave match those of regular-economy workers with the same job profile, but allowing gig workers to opt for a lower amount.

Alternatively, gig workers could receive information about typical contributions by regular-economy workers in their CPF statements.

Doing so could encourage them to follow the "social norm", Mr Chen said.


MR PATRICK TAY (West Coast GRC)

More help for vulnerable in finding jobs

Many countries in the West have strong ecosystems in place to help those with special needs find meaningful work, and Singapore should study their successes to build a similarly strong system here, Mr Tay said.

He also said that former offenders may need more help to re-integrate back into society and remain employed.

Career counselling, training, employment facilitation and re-integration should start while they are in prison, so that they can "seamlessly integrate" back into the labour market, Mr Tay said.


DR INTAN AZURA MOKHTAR ( Ang Mo Kio GRC)

Proper rest areas for low-wage workers

Lower-wage workers, such as cleaners and security officers, should have proper rest areas, Dr Intan said.

These should be well ventilated, well lit and have proper tables and seats for the workers to rest and have their meals.

"Some may feel that requiring proper rest areas is a trivial request, but it is not so particularly when you work mostly on your feet and the only time you get to sit and rest is during your lunch or tea breaks," she said.

Such workers' need for a place to sit and rest while at work is often overlooked.


MR YEE CHIA HSING (Chua Chu Kang GRC)

Balance work safety, business concerns

Businesses have given feedback to say that additional safety measures are introduced after every fatal accident, Mr Yee said.

"While we all understand the importance of workplace safety, how can we also take into consideration legitimate business concerns about the associated cost of implementation, as well as its impact on labour productivity?" he asked.

Mr Yee asked the Manpower Ministry to do a "stock take" of the various workplace safety and health requirements, to see if any can be removed without compromising overall safety.


NOMINATED MP LIM SUN SUN

More women in male-dominated sectors

Introduce incentives - such as more flexible working arrangements and better childcare support - for companies in sectors where women are under-represented, Professor Lim said.

Prof Lim, a founding committee member of the Singapore Computer Society's Women in Technology Special Interest Group, said that the Government should fund "systematic longitudinal research" that tracks the career trajectory of women through various sectors.

Doing so would shed light on their reasons for leaving the workforce, as well as factors that encouraged them to rejoin it, she said.


MS DENISE PHUA (Jalan Besar GRC)

Targets for hiring people with disabilities

In large companies with more than 1,000 employees, people with disabilities should form at least 1 per cent of the workforce, Ms Phua suggested.

She also called for the Manpower Ministry to provide more incentives for inclusive employers. This could come in the form of making the Special Employment Credit for persons with disabilities a permanent feature "so that employers are assured of ongoing support".

Ms Phua also said that this credit should be doubled, which would allow it to subsidise job coaching services.


MR ZAINAL SAPARI (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC)

Specify WSQ modules for some sectors

Workers in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors are expected to complete certain Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) modules, but it is left to employers to decide which modules they should take, Mr Zainal said.

"Most employers would then choose the WSQ modules which could be completed in the shortest possible time, which may not necessarily be the best modules to equip workers with the relevant skills and competencies."

He suggested that the Government specify certain compulsory modules which will be most relevant to workers and help improve their productivity.


NOMINATED MP ANTHEA ONG

Do more for workers' mental well-being

Look into the increased mental health risks faced by certain types of workers, Ms Ong said. These include low-skilled workers, migrant workers as well as people with disabilities.

"Each group is vulnerable to different work conditions connected to greater psychological hazards - these include discrimination, higher risk of physical injury and challenges in social integration," Ms Ong said. Provisions in the Workplace Health and Safety Act, as well as subsidiary legislation, should also provide for the psycho-social health and safety of employees, she added.

Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'From The Backbench'. Print Edition | Subscribe