Do you think that rest-areas are a given at all workplaces?
Well, you would be wrong to assume that! Because not all workplaces have dedicated rest areas for their employees.
Hence, for this reason, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has recently set up a $1 million Workcare Grant for building owners, service buyers, and providers to tap on, to construct new rest areas, or improve existing ones.
Uplifting our lower-wage workers
Uplifting lower-wage workers should be conducted holistically – that would mean, not just raising wages but also providing welfare and dignity to the occupation.
With the Workcare Grant, building owners, service buyers, and providers (who employ at least 10 outsourced essential services workers) are eligible to get up to 80% funding for creating new rest areas or improving existing rest areas.
The Tripartite Workgroup, which comprises representatives from the MOM, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) has published an advisory on the provision of rest areas for outsourced workers in December 2019 and has now taken a further step in providing grants for stakeholders to tap on.
The Tripartite Workgroup strongly pushes for stakeholders to provide proper and reasonable rest areas for essential workers.
Former Minister for Manpower, Mrs Josephine Teo encourages relevant stakeholders to take up this grant to chip into the collective effort for recognising the value of essential workers, by showing more care and concern for them.
Labour MP Mr Fahmi Aliman, who advocates for the low wage and essential services workers reiterated in a Facebook post for more landlords to set aside rest areas for their outsourced workers.
“It is only right that outsourced workers have access to proper rest areas for their well-being”, he added, while assuring service buyers that NTUC has been, and will continue to work with building management to propose viable, win-win solutions for the provision of proper rest areas.
Findings from Workcare Pilot Study
The Workcare Grant comes following a pilot study by MOM to test out ways to improve rest areas for cleaners.
The Tripartite Workgroup has collaborated with West Coast Town Council and Ang Mo Kio Town Council in exploring cost-effective and easy-to-implement solutions for service buyers and providers to enhance rest areas.
Some of these solutions include providing personal lockers, customising rest areas to inculcate a sense of belonging at the workplace, showcasing the efforts of workers to residents under the town council to increase the appreciation of essential estate workers.
Senior Minister of State for Manpower, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, who is also a member of the Tripartite Workgroup, emphasises that Singapore, as a fair and inclusive society, will uplift lower-wage workers. He added that although the grant was released a year later due to the economic impact of COVID-19 on businesses, the principle of enhancing the welfare of lower-wage workers remains firm.
Also, the current $1 million grant from MOM is an initial funding amount and can potentially be increased based on a variety of considerations.