Mr Seah Kian Peng
MP for Marine Parade GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) how many persons with disabilities (PWDs) are currently employed and how many PWDs are looking for employment; (b) how many employers currently have PWDs in their employ; (c) what further support can be extended to employers to encourage them to employ more PWDs; and (d) what further support can be extended to families of PWDs.
1. Based on data from the Comprehensive Labour Force Survey (CLFS), among resident persons with disabilities (PwDs) in the working ages of 15 to 64 in 2018 and 2019, on average, 28.2% were employed, 3.6% were without a job and actively looking for one, and the remaining 68.2% of resident PwDs were outside the labour force, with most of them citing poor health or disability as the main reason. Based on the number of PwDs known to SG Enable, MSF estimates that there are around 32,000 PwDs aged 15 – 64, of whom around 9,000 are employed, 1,000 are unemployed, and around 22,000 are outside of the labour force.
2. Employers receive wage offsets under the Special Employment Credit (SEC) and Additional Special Employment Credit (ASEC) for Singaporean PwDs earning below $4,000 a month. In the first half of 2020, there were almost 5,000 employers who received SEC and ASEC for over 8,300 Singaporean PwDs who were in their employ. The total number of employers who employ PwDs would be higher than 5,000, as there are other employers who employ PwDs who earn more than $4000 a month.
3. The Government is committed to supporting the employment and employability of PwDs. The SEC and ASEC, which provide wage offsets of up to $240 a month for PwDs under 67, and $330 for PwDs over 67, will expire in December 2020, and be replaced by the Enabling Employment Credit (EEC). The EEC will provide employers of Singaporean PwDs with a wage offset of up to 20% of the employee’s monthly income, with a higher cap of $400 a month, compared to the SEC and ASEC. In addition, employers who hire Singaporean PwDs who have not been employed for at least 6 months will receive an additional wage offset of up to 10% capped at $200 a month, for a period of 6 months.
4. Last month, the Government announced that we will provide the higher level of wage support of 50% under the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) to all new local PwDs hired by JGI-eligible firms from September 2020 to February 2021. We are also finalising plans through the National Jobs Council to provide more support for employers to hire PwDs during this economic downturn and will announce more details when ready.
5. These additional support measures will complement the existing support available under the Open Door Programme, which helps PwDs enter suitable jobs and better integrate into the workplace. The job placement and support services under the ODP are free and available to all PwD jobseekers and employers.
6. We will also continue to invest in training, both to equip PwDs with industry-relevant skills, and to help employers and co-workers work better with PwDs. In the first half of 2020, 209 PwDs benefited from the ODP Training Grant, which subsidises course fees and provides training allowance. Employers also receive funding to send their employees for training to better understand how to work with colleagues with disabilities. The ODP Training Grant was enhanced in July 2020 to provide stronger funding support to encourage more employers to send their employees with disabilities for training. Under the enhanced Training Grant, there are more course fee subsidies and training allowance, as well as a new training commitment award of $100 per completed eligible training course.
7. We will continue to push for progressive and inclusive workplaces, and recognise employers who are leading the way. To help defray the cost of job redesign initiatives, the ODP Job Redesign Grant provides funding of up to 90% of job redesign costs, capped at $20,000 per employee with disabilities. SG Enable also launched the Enabling Mark earlier this month, which is a national-level accreditation framework that seeks to incentivise organisations to adopt best practices, and support them as they improve their inclusive employment practices.
8. MSF set up the Enabling Masterplan Workgroup on “Preparing PwDs for the Future Economy” last year comprising members from the people, private and public sectors. This is a collaborative, cross-sectoral effort to co-solution and co-implement initiatives to improve the employability of PwDs. Some of these initiatives have already been implemented, such as the enhancements to the wage support scheme and the ODP Training Grant, as well as the launch of the Enabling Mark mentioned earlier. We are also looking at other initiatives to expand opportunities for lifelong learning, create more job opportunities, and better support PwDs at the workplace. The workgroup will release its full report and recommendations in the first half of 2021.
9. Beyond support for inclusive employers and PwDs, the Government recognises that families and caregivers are the first line of support for PwDs. We have introduced financial assistance schemes such as the Home Caregiving Grant last year, and CareShield Life earlier this month. The Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC) also helps caregivers to develop care plans to ensure that the future needs of their loved ones are met. We have worked through SG Enable to build caregiver support networks, facilitate peer-to-peer training, and support ground-up initiatives such as the Inaugural Care Carnival that was held in November 2019. Detailed information on all these caregiver support services can be found on the Enabling Guide website which was launched by SG Enable last year. We will continue to partner caregivers to co-create solutions that better address their needs and concerns.