Singapore supports low-wage workers, extends COVID-19 tests aid

Singapore will ramp up the funding of a scheme that helps local workers whose earnings are in the bottom 20%, receiving not more than S$2,300 a month.
By: | August 31, 2021

Singapore is set to roll out additional support for low-wage workers, topping up the salaries of lower-wage workers in cash and CPF contributions instead of taxing their incomes, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced.

Almost half a million workers benefit from the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme, which costs S$850 million (US$631 million) a year. This will be increased to S$1.1 billion (US$0.82 billion) in two years, the prime minister said.

The scheme aims to help Singaporean workers whose earnings are in the bottom 20% — those who earn a gross monthly income of not more than S$2,300 (US$1,708) a month — topping up their salaries and helping them save for retirement.

The government will also lower the qualifying age for the scheme from 35 to 30, to help younger lower-wage workers, he added. 

“Beyond emergency assistance, lower-wage workers need longer-term support. In many countries, the earnings of such workers have stagnated. But in Singapore, their lives have improved as the country progressed,” he said. 

The government has also announced that it will continue subsidising mandatory COVID-19 testing for vaccinated workers who live or work in higher risk sectors until the end of this year, but urged companies to factor in such costs into operations from 2022 onwards. 

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These include workers who reside in dormitories, and those who work in the construction, marine and process, aviation, and maritime industries. 

Employees who work in settings with unmasked clients, like F&B establishments, gyms, healthcare, and personal care services are also subjected to such testing.