Parliament: MP proposes new income support scheme for full-time caregivers
This is especially important because more people — most of whom are women — will be displaced from the workforce due to the aging population here and the rising needs of elder care: MP Carrie Tan
- MPs Carrie Tan and Melvin Yong said that full-time caregivers can be better supported
- There could be an income supplement scheme for full-time caregivers, said Ms Tan
- Ms Gan Siow Huang said that the Government already has various measures to support caregivers
- However, the Minister of State for Manpower also said that the MPs’ suggestions will be considered
The Government should do more to ensure that people who leave the workforce to become full-time caregivers have enough retirement savings in their old age, a Member of Parliament (MP) said on Tuesday (Feb 2).
Ms Carrie Tan, MP for Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency, said that this is especially important because more people — most of whom are women — will be displaced from the workforce due to the aging population here and the rising needs of elder care.
She asked if the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would consider introducing a new scheme for full-time caregivers, which she called the CareFare Income Supplement, that would be similar to the existing Workfare Income Supplement scheme.
The Workfare Income Supplement scheme supplements the income and retirement savings of eligible low-wage workers through cash payments and contributions to the national social security scheme that is the Central Provident Fund.
Separately, Mr Melvin Yong, MP for Radin Mas, asked if MOM would consider incentivising employers to allow employees with caregiving duties to work remotely, so that they can better juggle both work and caring for their dependents at home.
In her reply to Ms Tan, Ms Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State for Manpower, said that the Government has already put in place various measures to support caregivers and lighten their load.
For example, means-tested preschool subsidies were enhanced not long ago to make preschool more affordable.
Then, there is the Silver Support Scheme, which was enhanced recently to provide top-ups for those who do not have enough income to support themselves.
The scheme was introduced in 2016 and provides quarterly cash supplements to seniors who had low incomes during their working years and now have less savings for their retirement.
As for Ms Tan’s suggestion of introducing a new CareFare Income Supplement, Ms Gan said that MOM will “keep an open mind to all the various options available to improve support for caregivers”.
She added that aside from government aid, the family members of caregivers can also step in to support them given the sacrifices that the caregivers have made in their careers to take care of dependent family members.
As for Mr Yong’s suggestion, Ms Gan said that MOM and the tripartite partners of the National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation have already been strongly advocating flexible work arrangements for all employees, not just caregivers.
“We want to continue to encourage employers to keep an open mind and seize the opportunity to look at expanding the scope of flexible arrangements for all employees, regardless of whether they are caregivers or not,” she said.
MOSTLY WOMEN STOPPED WORK TO BE CAREGIVERS
During the parliamentary sitting, Ms Tan also asked MOM for the figures each year between 2015 and 2019 of the number of people who said that they left the labour force to care for children or older parents.
She also asked how many months on average these people remain outside of the workforce.
Ms Gan replied that data from the annual comprehensive labour force survey showed that in 2018, 144,100 — or 4.3 per cent — of the resident population mentioned that broader caregiving responsibilities was the main reason for them leaving the labour force.
Of these, 55,300 were tending to their children.
These numbers fell slightly in 2019, with 133,500 people giving that as the main reason, and 52,900 of these having left the workforce to care for their children.
Nine in 10 of the people in this group were women, while more than 90 per cent of the people in this group were older than 30 years.
Among those who left the workforce to care for their own children, the median number of years since their last job was about four to five years.
For those who said they stopped work to care for family members or relatives, the median number of years since their last job was eight years.
Ms Gan said that data collected before 2018 is not directly comparable because different questions were asked during the earlier surveys.
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