TL;DR – The Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) has been around since 2007. It’s time we get to know it better.
In the past weeks, much has been said and argued over on the topics of minimum wage and redundancy insurance. Most netizens merely focus on this: Other countries have this, but not Singapore. And what follows in most online discussions are angsty comments from opposition supporters about how uncaring the government of the day is.
Let’s the example of the discussion on minimum wage.
Dr Jamus Lim from the Workers’ Party did well to spark discussion about this since one of the key proposals in their laundry list of over 90 ideas was to implement a national minimum wage of $1.300.
The trouble is many Singaporeans just stop at comparing Workers’ Party’s $1,300 minimum wage proposal with the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) and conclude that the former is better.
I personally don’t see how the minimum wage of $1,300 is a superior scheme since it’s only the first rung whilst the PWM is a ladder of skills and wages that help our lowest-income workers move up.
Since the first implementation of PWM for the cleaning sector in 2015, we’ve seen real wage growth in the three sectors with PWM.
Between 2014 and 2019:
- Income grew by 26 percent for 40,000 cleaners
- Income grew by 36 percent for 36,000 security guards
- Income grew by 30 percent for 3,000 landscape maintenance workers
Moreover, what many naysaying netizens have failed to see is that we should not be comparing just minimum wage vis-a-vis PWM.
We ought to also take into account other support schemes for the lower-income Singaporeans, such as Workfare Income Supplement and also the Silver Support Scheme for the elderly poor.
What is Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme?
Not familiar with the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS)? Here’s a quick view of the scheme
Yeps, it’s been around for over a decade, but still, not enough Singaporeans know about it. I suppose if I look at things more positively, it probably means they earn above the qualifying income and hence, are not within the bottom 20 percentile.
WIS qualifiers are being reviewed every three years. The last reviews were in 2016 and then in 2019.
The latest review saw the qualifying income being adjusted from $2.000 to $2.300 per month.
Exceptions are if you own a property with an annual value (AV) of over $13,000, if you own two or more properties, or if your spouse’s annual income exceeds $70,000.
Curious how much the WIS payouts are?
So tell me, how is minimum wage a superior scheme when the PWM, coupled with WIS, is already more than $1,300 in most cases?
PWM is minimum wage by sector and more, since it provides skills upgrading and progression opportunities for those who have the ambition and aptitude.
And precisely because it’s by sector, tweaks and solutioning can be more targeted and can also help solve issues peculiar to the sector.
Low-wage Singaporeans to receive first half of $3,000 Workfare Special Payment
We’re now in the midst of a global pandemic. Lives and livelihoods are at stake. The Singapore government has released four Budgets amounting to nearly S$100 billion to safeguard livelihoods and support Singaporean families.
Here’s a snapshot of the support for Singaporean households.
It’s the July month now. Noticed that there’s a Workfare Special Payment (1st payment)?
And there’s a Workfare Special Payment (2nd payment) in the month of October too.
The WSP is a grand total of $3,000 in cash.
This will be paid over two equal payments of $1,500 each, in July and October 2020.
All Singaporean employees and self-employed persons who received Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payments in 2019 will also receive a Workfare Special Payment (WSP) in 2020. This is to provide additional support for low-wage workers aged 35.
About 400,000 lower-income Singaporeans would already have received this SMS yesterday (July 25).
Yeps, this special payment was announced by DPM Heng Swee Keat under the Care and Support Package at the Resilience Budget on 26 March 2020 to provide more support to Singaporeans who need more help during this period of economic uncertainty.