Budget 2018 debate

Review CPF contributions for older workers

It is time to review employers' Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for older workers, given that the current rates were set 30 years ago in 1988,

Labour MP Zainal Sapari, during the Budget debate in Parliament yesterday, suggested having one universal rate for employers' contributions until workers reach 65 years, to help low-wage workers, especially older ones, to save for retirement.

Currently, the employer's contribution rate towards workers' CPF accounts decreases progressively after the worker reaches 55.

The different CPF contribution rates, tagged to different age bands, were meant to ensure companies could remain competitive, noted Mr Zainal (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).

However, many workers, regardless of their age, are already being paid based on the job value, as Singapore has moved away from a seniority-based wage structure, he said.

"It is also in our best interest to ensure that workers can meet their basic retirement sum, as it would reduce the burden on social services in later years, which would have to be shouldered by the current working population," he said.

The assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress suggested making the annual wage supplement (AWS) - or 13th month bonus - mandatory for all workers. This could increase the salaries of low-wage workers by 8.3 per cent, which would help narrow the widening income gap, he said.

Speaking to The Straits Times later, Mr Zainal said only about 20 per cent of workers in the security and cleaning industries get AWS.

In his speech, he also recommended amending the Employment Act to include better medical coverage for workers, by making employers pay for the full cost of non-chronic outpatient treatment at polyclinics or company-appointed clinics. Currently, the law only requires employers to pay for consultation fees when a worker sees a doctor for outpatient treatment, and there is no requirement to pay for employees' medication costs.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2018, with the headline 'Review CPF contributions for older workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe