Singapore's Ministry of Manpower on 14 May launched a S$1 million fund (US$750,000) to encourage building owners to create “proper and reasonable” rest areas for outsourced low-wage workers, particularly cleaners and security officers who are outsourced. Dubbed the Workcare Grant, the fund comes after years of lobbying for better welfare for these workers, and after studies and recommendations dating back to 2019.
The new grant will cover up to 80 percent of the cost of creating a new rest area or improving an existing rest area, capped at S$8,000 and S$3,000 respectively. To be eligible for the grant, the rest area must benefit at least 10 outsourced low-wage workers.
At least 2,000 low-wage workers are expected to benefit from the takeup of the grant, according to Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo, who pointed out that while it is fairly simple for building owners to create a proper rest area, the effect on the workers' well-being is significant.
She said: “When we all do our part to show care and concern for essential services workers, let them know that they are valued members of the community...then we are able to uplift our lower-wage workers.”
While the conditions of the grant do not stipulate what should constitute a “proper and reasonable” rest area, it does reference a 2019 study that made recommendations such as ensuring adequate shelter and ventilation, providing access to drinking water, and having secure facilities where workers can store their belongings.