Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan Jin told parliament yesterday that “if we are not able to meet these targets, we are likely to continue the tightening and restructuring approach.” The targets he set out are:
- foreign presence in the labour pool is capped at around a third;
- productivity grows 2-3 per cent a year; and
- when Singaporeans’ wages improve.
He pointed out that the foreign workforce grew by 67,000 last year. He remarked that the number was still too large and needs to be tightend to ensure that growth is led by productivity rather and increasing the supply side.
The minister also announced changes to the Employment Act, which will ensure better protection for workers – including Professional, Managers and Executives. This new move will provide better protection to about 450,000 workers.
Mr. Tan also said that there is a need to strike a balance between the needs of the employers and employees. Policies need to be honed based on feedback on the ground.
Giving details of the key changes, the ministry said the salary threshold of non-workmen will be raised from S$2,000 to S$2,500 for them to enjoy working hours-related protection, including overtime payment. Examples of non-workmen include retail assistants, administrative staff and clerks. About 150,000 more workers stand to benefit from working hours-related protection.
However, to help employers manage costs, the ministry will cap the amount of overtime rate payable to non-workmen at the salary level of S$2,250.
Beyond the salary protection already accorded to PMEs earning up to S$4,500, they will also be protected under the general provisions of the Employment Act — like sick leave benefits and protection against unfair dismissal. About 300,000 PMEs will benefit from this change.