Budget debate: Give more help to ex-offenders, people with disabilities, say MPs

It may not be easy for some persons with disabilities to work in a building where the physical structure may pose a big hindrance, noted Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).
It may not be easy for some persons with disabilities to work in a building where the physical structure may pose a big hindrance, noted Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The new Enabling Employment Credit scheme, which will provide wage offsets to companies that employ those with disabilities, is a welcome move, said Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).

But more needs to be done to support Singaporeans with disabilities, he said, joining two other MPs who called for more help in this area during the debate on the Budget statement on Wednesday (Feb 26).

It may not be easy for some persons with disabilities to work in a building where the physical structure may pose a big hindrance, noted Mr Zainal.

The Government can consider providing funding support to help employers offset the costs needed to modify infrastructure at workplaces, especially in older buildings, to encourage employment of people with disabilities, he said.

Various job portals such as MyCareersFuture.sg or the national jobs bank should also indicate positions that welcome persons with disabilities, added Mr Zainal.

Some people with disabilities are also still unemployed, said Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) , though the situation is improving. "Is there a way by which the SkillsFuture movement can include them in a more substantive and systemic way?," she asked.

Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC) also said that persons with disabilities or special needs seem to earn relatively lower salaries than typical hires, based on anecdotal evidence.

She called for greater recognition and remuneration to be accorded to this group, adding that she will elaborate more on the issue of employment support for persons with disabilities or special needs during the debate on the budget of the Manpower Ministry.

Dr Intan also urged employers to expand flexible work arrangements for this group of workers.

Ex-offenders also still face challenges to secure good jobs after being released, said Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok). The Enabling Employment Credit can be extended to cover employers of ex-offenders, so that they can be encouraged to give them full-time jobs, he said.