What should the upcoming budget do for workers?

The NTUC recently submitted its list of recommendations for the Government’s considerations for Budget 2015 which will be announced on 23 February 2015. In a nutshell, the recommendations can be summed up into four groups:

  1. Enhancing Productivity
  2. Assisting Specific Groups of Workers
  3. Skills Upgrading
  4. Helping Families

Enhancing Productivity

  • First-Mover Advantage in the form of incentives for companies who pilot emerging technologies and business concepts.
  • Consultancy Support for companies in terms of job redesign, skills structure and competency building.
  • Shared Services for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to decrease fixed overheads.

 

Assisting Specific Group of Workers

OlderWorker

  • Encouraging Employment of Older Workers through enhancing the Special Employment Credit for workers above 65, incentives for job redesign and incentives for workplace health initiatives targeted at older workers.
  • Enhancements to Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) to be based upon basic wages instead of gross wages; adjusting average monthly wage for workers to receive the maximum WIS payout to $1,200.

 

Skills Upgrading

  • Expediting Continuing Education and Training (CET) 2020 Masterplan development process in light of negative productivity gain and ensure that there would be more upgrading pathways for workers to acquire higher skills and qualifications.

training

  • Professional Conversion Programmes: enhanced incentives and funding support could be given to encourage more workers to take on programmes.
  • Enhanced Funding for skills upgrading to attract and retain local talent to help employers better invest in their staff and reduce reliance on foreign manpower; provide additional funding to incentivise and encourage employers to actively identify and sponsor employees for higher skills upgrading to undertake higher job roles.
  • Greater funding flexibility for in-house training programmes as companies undergo restructuring and more value-added jobs are created.
  • Enhanced funding for PME-related Programmes: Through support for PMEs for non-WSQ industry recognised programmes/in-house training, as well as programmes to support PMEs in gaining international work exposure; Current percentage/training hour claims cap for funding programmes should be increased to encourage employers to support CET programmes for PMEs.

 

Helping Families

  • Sandwiched class: provide a Personal Income Tax Rebate to this group, as such as rebate will mean some extra cash flow for them and their families; Government should also review the qualifying income ceiling to relief more working families of increasing financial burdens.
  • Caring for the elderly: Provide more incentives to companies to speed up and widen adoption by companies to provide paid eldercare leave.

mother

  • Supporting mothers: flexibility in the provision of common lactation rooms in office building; same maternity and childcare benefits for single mothers and married mothers; more support for Stay At Home Mothers (SAHM) or Work At Home Mothers (WAHM) to save up for family contingency; lowering of qualifying age from 35 to 30 years old (median age of first time mothers), to enable WAHM to tap into the scheme and also encourage more SAHM to take on freelance or self-employment opportunities.

 

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Arthur Lee

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