Budget debate: Labour MP urges adjustment to Workfare scheme for ‘immediate uplift’ to wages, Politics News & Top Stories

green and white leafed plantsSINGAPORE – While waiting for the progressive wage model to be expanded to more sectors, the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) can be adjusted to provide low-wage workers with “an immediate uplift”, Dr Koh Poh Koon suggested on Wednesday (Feb 24).

The deputy secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress made the suggestion in Parliament during the Budget debate.

Instead of differentiating payouts by age groups, Dr Koh suggested that the amount be determined based on a worker’s income.

This is because a younger worker is more likely to have younger dependants, and “would certainly benefit from a higher WIS payout to supplement his take-home pay”.

“I hope that every lower-wage worker with similar earnings gets an equal uplift regardless of age, to further strengthen our social compact,” said Dr Koh.

The WIS targets Singaporean workers whose earnings are in the bottom 20 per cent.

It is paid in the form of both Central Provident Fund top-ups for retirement and cash to supplement the worker’s earned income.

On Wednesday, Dr Koh also suggested that the income assessment period for WIS eligibility be shortened.

Currently, in order to qualify, a worker must not earn more than the stipulated income ceiling in the previous 12 months.

“This delays much-needed support for lower-wage workers,” said Dr Koh.

“Shortening the income assessment period (for WIS) will ensure that we continue to support our lower-wage workers in a timely manner, leaving no one behind.”

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