Mother fears special needs son will lose job with minimum wage

minimum wage special needs disabilities persons

Persons with disabilities¹ are not a homogenous group of people.

There are people with disabilities whose productivity level will be low and they work under supervision as well.

Work is encouraged as it gives a sense of independence and dignity, and a meaningful way to spend time, a social engagement as well which is good for overall emotional and mental well being.

These are the benefits of work instead of lazing at home with nothing to occupy.

Employers willing to employ persons like these are to be commended. With greater awareness, more employers are willing to employ persons with disabilities.

The WP’s recommendation of $1300 take-home pay means a gross pay of $1625 based on current CPF contribution rate for people less than 55. Factor in employer’s 17% CPF contribution, it will be minimum pay of almost $2000.

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As a mother of a special needs boy whose productivity level lags behind normal peers, I am thankful that he can be gainfully employed. Realistically speaking, I do not expect a salary of almost $2000.

On good days, he is two-third as productive as his colleagues. On bad days, he’s probably half as productive.

I’m thankful to his employer for his understanding. I fear that a legislated min take-home pay of $1300 could well put him out of a job.

I agree with Dr Koh Poh Koon that persons with disabilities should be supported through other measures instead of putting the burden on employers. Employers are there to provide the jobs, not to take over the burden.

Mdm Lim

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The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of our team or its members.

¹What is a disability?

The types of disabilities are physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities.

Physical Disabilities

Physical disability refers to either with a total or partial loss of bodily functions, such as the ability to walk or fine motor skills, or a total or partial loss of a part of the body.

Which can result from congenital causes or are acquired later in life, as a result of traffic/industrial accidents or medical conditions such as stroke or infections.

Examples of congenital physical disabilities include muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), spina bifida and spinal muscular atrophy. With the right use of Assistive Technology, training and support, persons with physical disabilities can live more independently

Sensory Disabilities

There are two types of sensory disability, namely visual and hearing impairments.

1. Hearing impairment

Hearing impairment refer to the partial or complete loss in one or both ears. There are 3 main types of hearing loss – conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss largely affects the external ear, and results in the reduction of sound intensity, or “loudness”.

Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear, and while it also reduces the sound intensity, it also introduces an element of distortion, which results in muffled sounds even when they are loud enough. A helpful analogy is when a person tunes into a radio station (e.g. 98.7 FM), but tunes in at the frequency of 98.5 FM.

Though the volume may be very loud, the sounds are muffled and not easily comprehended. Mixed hearing loss is the combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

2. Visual impairment

Visual impairment refers to a significant visual loss that cannot be corrected by means of the use of optical lenses, medication or operation. There are also varying degrees of visual impairment. Some people have low vision, others have tunnel vision in which their peripheral vision may be affected, while others experience complete blindness.

Intellectual Disabilities

Intellectual disability is mainly characterized by a measure of their intelligence quotient, as well as limitations in their adaptive functioning. Some of these functions include academic functioning, social functioning and practical functioning. Mild intellectual disability (MID) is characterized as having an intellectual quotient between 50-70. Persons with an intellectual quotient below 50, are characterized as having moderate to severe intellectual disability.

Developmental Disabilities

A well-known example of a developmental disability is autism. Autism is a developmental disability of the brain with currently no known causes or cures. Persons with autism largely have social skills problems in the areas of communication, interaction and integration.

Some characteristics of persons with autism may include an absence of speech, lack of responsiveness to others, repetitive motor behaviours and extreme withdrawal symptoms. There may also be difficulties in understanding verbal and non-verbal communication, such as gestures, facial expressions and body language.


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