September 07, 2021

Singapore’s prime minister outlined measures to increase the pay of lower wage employees, tighten ”work pass” eligibility, boost employment opportunities for Singaporean citizens, and strengthen protections against workplace discrimination in the National Day Rally Speech.

Highlights

Support for lower wage workers

  • Increased government wage subsidies and Central Provident Fund contributions would be given to low wage workers in two years. 
  • The eligible age for Workfare payments would be reduced to 30 years, down from 35. 
  • The Progressive Wage Model will apply to more industry sectors, including retail, food services and waste management, and it would apply to specific job roles regardless of the sector. Companies paying Progressive Wages to all employees would be awarded a Progressive Wage Mark, and the public sector would purchase goods and services only from accredited companies. 
  • Companies hiring foreign workers would be required to pay the Local Qualifying Salary (LQS) to all of their local employees, and the LQS amount would be adjusted periodically. 

Delivery and gig platform workers

  • Commitments were introduced to address delivery and gig workers’ employment rights “to give these workers more secure futures.”

Employment and S Pass eligibility

  • The eligibility criteria for issuing Employment and S Passes would be tightened “gradually and progressively.” However, the prime minister acknowledged the economy’s continued reliance on foreign expertise, particularly in the finance and ICT sectors. 

Protection from discrimination

  • Guidelines issued by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices would be enshrined in law to increase the protection of workers against discrimination on the grounds of nationality, gender, age, religion and disability. A workplace discrimination tribunal would be established and the range of enforcement actions expanded. 

Initiatives to support racial harmony

  • A new law — The Maintenance of Racial Harmony Act — would be introduced with the aim of combatting discrimination on the grounds of race, and to encourage “moderation and tolerance between different racial groups.”

Race and religion

  • National policies on race and religion would be revised according to the country’s “needs and circumstances,” and any future initiatives would be consensus-based. 

Related resources

Fiona Webster
by Fiona Webster

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

Stephanie Rosseau
by Stephanie Rosseau

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group


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