10 top things to celebrate 2015 as a worker

2015 comes to a close today…if you haven’t already known that.

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Most would agree that it had been a busy and crazy year…with all the SG50 celebrations, General Election and also the passing of our Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

But specifically for the workforce, 2015 has more reason for workkers like you and me to rejoice and be thankful for.

Here are 10 things to celebrate:

1. SkillsFuture

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For workers who want to upgrade their skills or deepen their skillsets, this would be the best way to develop their fullest potential. Regardless of the life-stage, workers can take advantage of the wide range of opportunities provided by SkillsFuture to realise their aspirations and master their skills.

2. CPF income ceiling to be raised

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At his Budget 2015 speech, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced that the CPF ceiling will be raised from $5,000 to $6,000 from 1 January 2016 to help middle-income Singaporeans accumulate more CPF savings during their working years.

Proposed by the NTUC prior to the Budget announcement, the raising of the CPF income ceiling will benefit at least 544,000 CPF members.

3. CPF Contribution rates for older workers to be raised

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Through a 1 percentage point by both the employer and employee, the contribution rate of workers aged 50 to 55 will be restored to 27%, the same level as those for younger workers.

Contribution rates for workers aged 55 to 60 will also increase to 26% with an increase of employer contribution of 1 percentage point.

Contribution rates for workers aged 60 to 65 will increase to 16.5% through a 0.5 percentage point increase in employer contribution.

The increase in employer contributions will go to the Special Account while the increase in employee contribution will go to the Ordinary Account.

4. 1% extra interest

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An additional 1% extra interest will be paid on the first $30,000 of CPF balances from the age of 55. This will be to help older CPF members who have small balances in their accounts. With this change, about three in five CPF members aged 55 and older can earn 6% interest.

5. Harassment Advisory

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The Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation jointly issued a Tripartite Advisory on Managing Workplace Harassment to help employers and employees prevent and manage workplace harassment.

6. Personal Income Tax Rebate

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During his Budget 2015 announcement, DPM Tharman also announced a 50% personal income tax rebate, subject to a cap of $1,000, to help middle-income taxpayers.

The cap of $1,000 is to ensure that benefits go mainly to middle-income to upper middle-income taxpayers.

7.  Progressive Wage Model for Landscape maintenance workers

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3,000 resident landscape maintenance workers will stand to benefit from the Progressive Wage Model for the landscape industry, which was launched in April. The initiative aims to lift the wages of workers in the sector and providing a clearer progression pathway.

8. Wage Credit Scheme extension

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The Wage Credit Scheme will be extended for 2016 and 2017 to give employers more time to adjust to the tight labour market.

Over the next two years, the Government will co-fund 20% of wage increases given to Singaporean employees earning a gross monthly wage of $4,000 and below.

The co-funding will apply to wage increases given in 2016 and 2017, over the employee’s wage level in the preceding year.

9. Paternity Leave

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in his 2015 National Day Rally that working dad will start getting an extra week of paternity leave fully paid for by the government. This brings the total to two weeks.

The civil service will be one of the first to offer new fathers this extra week . But to give time for employers to adjust, firms will join the new scheme on a voluntary basis for now.

10. Changes in Employment Act

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From April 1 2016, employers will be required to issue itemised payslips and key employment terms. This is part of the changes to the Employment Act which was passed in August 2015.

Under the amendments, MOM also clarified that the employer will have to pay their employees holiday rates of pay or give them a day off if they have to work on non-scheduled public holidays declared by the Government, such as the SG50 public holiday and polling days.

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As the year comes to an end today,  what do you hope to see in 2016?

Image Credits: Re-employment Singapore, Wise Workplace, Today, Today online.

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Arthur Lee

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