Institution: Ministry of Manpower
Problem: Singapore’s Employment Act was improved to help specifically low-wage Singaporean workers who are generally older, less educated, and mainly employed by micro-enterprises in industries such as cleaning, security, retail, food and beverage. In some cases, basic terms of employment and conditions were not clear, like informal workers not receiving employer’s contributions to their Central Provident Fund. These vulnerable workers were often unaware of their employment rights and/or feared their dismissal if reporting their poor employment conditions. The government supplemented low-wage workers’ income through fiscal transfers, but given the inherent structural constraints and market rigidities, raising their living standards of employment and life in a sustainable way required a different approach.
Solution: The Initiative was launched by the Ministry of Manpower and CPF Board in September 2012. The main objectives were raising low-wage workers’ awareness about employment rights and ensuring their retirement security by educating both employers and employees on their obligations and rights through a mass media campaign (press, radio, TV commercials and targeted ads). A whistle-blowing strategy, a dedicated hotline and an email address were created in 2012 to lodge complaints and/or report non-compliance matters to the Employment Act, to encourage low-wage workers or their families to come forward if they suspect employment terms are not in accordance with the law.
Impact: By focusing on 3Ps (People, Public, Private) and getting the three groups to collaborate through tighter partnership, awareness was improved, and better self-regulation was achieved from the employers. WorkRight TV commercials reached over 2 million viewers. WorkRight helped more than 35,000 Singaporeans affected by under-payment of salary, CPF and/or overtime payment issues, out of which more than 19,000 were low-wage workers. Comparing the non-compliance rate for the first 5,000 inspections with the subsequent inspections, the non-compliance rate has been reduced from 33 per cent to 13 per cent.