workplace support for lower-wage workers

The newly-released 'Tripartite Standard (TS) for Advancing Well-Being of Lower-Wage Workers' covers how employers can provide fair treatment, and offer support in areas such as training, career progression, and work safety & health programmes.

Previously in the Commitee of Supply (COS) 2022 debate, Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Manpower, Zaqy Mohamad highlighted how the Government is looking to provide workplace support to lower-wage workers - in their professional development, as well as their physical and mental wellbeing - through a new Tripartite Standard (TS), Advancing Well-Being of Lower-Wage Workers (TS-LWW).

With that in mind, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) has recently released the full TS that specifies a set of good practices that all employers in Singapore can implement to uplift the wellbeing of lower wage workers. "Employers who adopt this Tripartite Standard treat lower wage workers fairly and provide them with support in areas such as training, career progression, and work safety & health programmes," the organisation summarised.

What is the purpose of this TS?

According to TAFEP, this is because lower-wage workers - who are those with a gross monthly income (excluding employer CPF contributions) at or below the 20th percentile of full-time employed residents of S$2,033 - are often in jobs that need greater workplace support for training & career development and wellbeing needs such as health and rest. Many are also in manual jobs where they may be more exposed to injury risks. As such, it is crucial employers adopt this set of practices to "extend lower-wage workers’ productive longevity, improve job retention, and deepen their professional skills".

"Taking care of their needs will increase their motivation, giving workers the dignity and respect that every individual deserves," the organisation added.

What are the practices needed to fulfil TS-LWW?

To adopt the TS for Advancing Well-Being of Lower-Wage Workers, employers must execute the following practices:

  1. Adopt the TS on the Employment of Term Contract Employees (TS-TCE).

  2. For firms with resident workers covered by sectoral or occupational progressive wages (PW), they are to fulfil the minimum requirements for training for PW-eligible job roles. That said, for firms that do not employ foreign workers and thus need not adhere to PW requirements, will also need to implement this practice to adopt the TS-LWW.

  3. Establish and communicate to their lower-wage workers what are the training plans, and potential career pathways for their learning & development. Employers can refer to the SSG Skills Framework, or the OJT blueprint for a foundation.

  4. Recognise skills and proficiency when hiring, assessing and promoting their lower-wage workers by:

    • Having candidates list relevant skills in their job applications, and
    • Having supervisors indicate their employees’ level of proficiency in their current roles in assessing performance and readiness for promotion.

  5. Provide support to help their lower-wage workers learn (e.g. time-off to go for training, to navigate online training), without detriment to these employees.

  6. Attain bizSAFE Level 2 to develop capability to perform systematic risk assessment and effective risk mitigation.

    • Employers can note that bizSAFE Level 2 is valid for six months, and is non-renewable; as such they are strongly encouraged to progress to Level 3 to remain on bizSAFE thereafter. However, this will not be required for firms to continue as adopters of this TS.
    • Employers who are SMEs from low-to-medium risk industry sectors can attain bizSAFE Level 2 through participation in StartSAFE, which is offered at no charge.

  7. Provide at least one Total Workplace Safety and Health module or an equivalent workplace health promotion programme addressing any of the following: chronic conditions, infectious disease control, mental health, or healthier lifestyle.

  8. Provide access to proper and reasonable rest areas for lower-wage workers working in their premises, including outsourced workers - whose regular work location is within the firm’s premises - if any.

    • According to TAFEP, a proper and reasonable rest area is defined as having privacy, shelter, adequate ventilation, lighting, with basic amenities such as tables, chairs, means to safekeep belongings (e.g. lockers) and means to drinking water and electrical outlets. It is also safe, clean, quiet, and accessible.
    • Employers can apply for a Workcare grant to co-fund this specific practice in TS-LWW.

  9. If it is not practicable to provide designated rest areas, such as due to space constraints, the employer should minimally ensure that these workers are provided with:

    • Means to safekeep belongings, and
    • Access to water for drinking.

As for employers who do not currently hire any lower-wage workers, TAFEP shared that they can still adopt the TS for Advancing Well-Being of Lower-Wage Workers, if they want to.

"Although the TS is primarily focused on advancing the wellbeing of lower-wage workers, some of the practices relating to workplace safety and health as well as ensuring the provision of rest areas as buyers of outsourced services are still relevant even for organisations without lower-wage workers. The organisation’s adoption of the TS-LWW will also serve as a commitment to follow these practices if it does hire lower-wage workers in future," TAFEP explained.

Read also: 234,000 lower-wage workers in Singapore to benefit from 18 recommendations on wages, jobs, and wellbeing


Image / Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad's Facebook

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