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Freelancers to get triple boost: MOM unveils help with healthcare, retirement savings and training

SINGAPORE — The Government on Tuesday (March 3) announced three measures to address the concerns of Singapore’s freelancers, or gig workers, whose incomes have been battered by the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Freelancers to get triple boost: MOM unveils help with healthcare, retirement savings and training

Private-hire car drivers are among the self-employed in Singapore who make up the growing "gig economy" of freelancers who may be supported by government schemes.

SINGAPORE — The Government on Tuesday (March 3) announced three measures to address the concerns of Singapore’s freelancers, or gig workers, whose incomes have been battered by the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.

One is a new scheme that will give self-employed persons — as the Government calls them — an allowance for attending training programmes. A second measure gives them help to save for healthcare needs while a third scheme aims to boost their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings.

These were announced by Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo during the debate on the ministry’s budget in Parliament on Tuesday.

The following are what self-employed persons need to know about the announcements.

A TRAINING SUPPORT SCHEME

Mrs Teo said a recent survey found that self-employed persons form about between 8 per cent and 10 per cent of Singapore’s resident workforce.

While most prefer to work for themselves rather than opting for regular employment, a small number would prefer to be in regular employment but could not find suitable openings, she noted.

“While some self-employed persons ponder their longer-term plans, the immediate concern of all is the significant drop in earnings due to the Covid-19 outbreak.”

Mrs Teo agreed that this is a difficult period for self-employed persons, but she said it is also a window of opportunity for these workers to upskill.

What it is: Over the next three months, all self-employed persons will be paid a training allowance of S$7.50 an hour when they attend courses under the SkillsFuture Series by government agency SkillsFuture Singapore, as well as selected sector-specific training programmes.

Mrs Teo clarified that there is no cap to how much training self-employed persons can sign up for, and added that the Government will set aside S$36 million for this purpose.

She said that the National Trades Union Congress will administer this allowance scheme and release details on how to apply soon.

CPF CONTRIBUTIONS

The contribute-as-you-earn (Caye) pilot scheme was launched at the start of the year to help self-employed persons better save for their healthcare needs through smaller and more regular MediSave contributions whenever they earn income.

What it is: To help self-employed persons come onboard, Mrs Teo said that the Government will provide a dollar-for-dollar matching for Caye contributions made by self-employed persons in 2020, capped at S$600.

MATCHED RETIREMENT SAVINGS SCHEME

To help Singaporeans with lower levels of CPF savings, the Government is introducing the Matched Retirement Savings Scheme (MRSS) from 2021 to 2025.

Aside from helping gig workers, Mrs Teo said that it can also benefit lower-income seniors and “unpaid” caregivers — all groups who typically have less in their CPF.

What it is: The Government will match cash top-ups made to the Retirement Account of eligible members, up to S$600 a year or S$3,000 over five years.

Mrs Teo said that about 435,000 Singaporeans will be eligible for MRSS each year.

She also said that there are no restrictions on who can contribute.

“For example, employers may want to use MRSS as a staff benefit to recognise long-serving senior workers and help them set aside more for retirement. They will enjoy tax reliefs for cash top-ups,” Mrs Teo said.

She added that working adults may also make top-ups to the accounts of their stay-at-home spouses or their parents who are nearing retirement.

The Ministry of Manpower said that these “givers” who make cash top-ups can enjoy up to S$14,000 tax relief under the Retirement Sum Topping-Up Scheme.

Who is eligible to receive contributions under MRSS? They are Singaporeans who are:

  • Aged 55 to 70

  • Have not met the Basic Retirement Sum in their CPF account

  • Are earning not more than S$4,000 a month on average

  • Have an annual value of residence that is not more than S$13,000, which covers all Housing and Development Board flats

  • Own not more than one property

Related topics

Josephine Teo gig economy freelance CAYE cpf SkillsFuture Covid-19

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