Clarifications on Workfare for those earning less than $500 a month

MP Gerald Giam

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): Madam, I think I understand the policy intent of encouraging able-bodied people to work more, but has the Government done studies on what they think would be the best way, or what would be the best way to achieve this policy intent? How did it arrive at the conclusion that imposing a $500 minimum income would encourage, rather than discourage, them from working?

Because to me, it seems to fly against the logic of the WIS which is the whole purpose of the WIS is to supplement the income of low-wage workers, so that they would be encouraged to work more. So, why would you have a cut-off such that the lowest income workers are not encouraged in that way to work more. And if the Government is still intent on keeping this $500 dollar minimum, can I get a assurance from the Minister that the Government will adopt a more flexible approach to take into account the various constraints faced by workers that prevent them from earning more than $500 dollars.

For example, some may have caregiving responsibilities who just cannot spare the time to work, to earn more than $500 dollars a month, or to work more than two days a week. So, can this group of people be extended some flexibility so that they can also get Workfare?

Mdm Deputy Speaker: Senior Minister of State Zaqy.

6.25 pm

Mr Zaqy Mohamad: I thank the Member for his question. So, I responded earlier and as I responded to Leader of Opposition, every low-wage worker who is working part-time, who is also receiving ComCare, will get Workfare. Whether there is a bar or not, as long as you are low-income, part-time, working and getting a sum less than $500, you will get Workfare. So, to some extent, I hope that clarifies and responds to the Member’s question.

Mdm Speaker: Mr Gerald Giam.

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: I am sorry, Senior Minister of State, I do not quite understand how those who earn less than $500 will get Workfare still. Can you explain a bit more please?

Mdm Speaker: Senior Minister of State Zaqy.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad: As what I have shared that as part of the concession given, for as long as you are low-income, you get ComCare, you will get Workfare. So, that differentiates our low-income workers from the casual workers who may not necessarily come from low-income households. There is a difference. And also, from some of those who are doing vacation jobs and so forth, this puts a differentiation and puts our focus on our social compact that you are low-income and you need the money, you would not be left behind. I hope that answers.

1 March 2022

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