A short-term relief fund set up to assist lower-wage workers in Singapore received a S$4 million (US$3 million) boost last week when the Singapore National Employers Federation announced that it has donated S$1 million. The government had committed to match donations with $3 for every $1, effectively quadrupling SNEF's contribution.
The relief fund was set up in 2017 by the Ministry of Manpower and is operated by the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management, a collaborative group representing the government, employers, and workers that provides services for resolving salary-related claims and employment disputes. This fund is specifically meant to assist low-wage workers who are not paid because their employers' businesses have failed—covering approximately 20 percent of the workforce. It pays up to S$1,000 or one month's salary, whichever is higher, to affected workers to temporarily tide them over.
In 2020, however, the fund's coverage was extended to cover 50 percent of the workforce due to the increased number of businesses facing financial issues because of the pandemic. The amount of support was also raised to two months' salary or S$4,600, whichever is higher, and the cap has not yet been rolled back. The ministry has not released figures on the utilisation of the fund over the last year.
Robert Yap, President of the Singapore National Employers Federation, said that the additional money will “make a big difference” to the lives of lower-wage workers and those affected by the pandemic over the years.