Wage Credit Scheme

imageDuring this year’s budget, the government has announced that they would co-fund 40% of the salary increment to Singaporean employees earning a gross monthly wage of up to $4,000. This Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) will apply to increments for year 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Similarly to Special Employment Credit, my staff’s increment was budgeted without expecting the WCS so I’ve decided to pass the credit to my staff in the form of bonus when the company receive the first payout in the second quarter of 2014. I can understand the time required to implement the scheme and computing the payout.

For every $100 salary increment, the government will co-fund $40. So my staff can expect to receive $480 (12 months x $40) in additional bonus in 2014.

I like that the government has implemented the scheme without requiring us to filling any form.This is totally frictionless implementation. Kudos to the government!

As I’ve said before, it is the combined effort of the government, employers and citizens to make our Singapore a more inclusive society. As an employer, I hope to do my part as a Singapore citizen and make our home a more inclusive society.

Special Employment Credit

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During this year’s budget report, when Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam touched on Special Employment Credit (SEC) and he mentioned about the enhancements, I was heartened to learn of the changes.

When I became the accidental boss, I had hoped to create a wonderful working conditions and environment for my staff. I mean, we spent most of our life working, if we don’t enjoy working, it would mean most of our life will be spent living miserably. Things I’ve introduced to make working more enjoyable: flexi hours, choice of working from home, off days on birthdays, child’s birthday, wedding anniversary etc. I also give my staff a lot of autonomy in the day-to-day operations.

All along, I’ve known my company’s operations are such that it is suitable for certain candidates who are graduates of special education. And fate would have it, I’ve employed a staff who graduated from special education.  It was all coincidental. The employment was simply based on the candidate’s technical knowledge and experience. That was all. I look past the candidate’s special education and was evaluated as I would any others. And my staff in fact, at times, performed above my expectations.

Sorry for the digression.

Anyway, this year, the SEC enhancements made were such that the SEC has been extended to cover younger workers (aged 50 years and below) who are graduates of the special education schools. The government’s objective was to encourage employers to hire them, so that more of them will be able to enter the workforce and remain independent.

I applaud the government’s effort and direction in making Singapore a more inclusive society. I’ve employed my staff as equals and I’ve already budgeted for their current salary. I did not employ my staff because of the SEC so I’ve decided to pass the company’s savings (SEC) to my staff instead.

Extension of Special Employment Credit (SEC)

To support employment of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) who have graduated from VWO-run Special Education (SPED) schools, the SEC will be extended to employers who hire these graduates. The SEC for PWDs will be set at 16% of the employee’s monthly income, up to $240 per month.

-Singapore Budget 2012

I hope more companies will do the same too. It is the combined effort of the government, employers and citizens to make our Singapore a more inclusive society.

Happy Staff, Happy People

During the recent general elections, one of the common rhetorics I’ve read online is that Singapore government’s emphasis on GDP growth has led to stressful working environment. I don’t profess to understand the logic with the above statement. To my limited economic and governance knowledge, GDP is just a number for the government to measure the health of Singapore economy.

With regards to a stressful working environment, I always think that it is in relation to the job scope, colleagues, office politics, work environment and company culture, no?

In the recent decade, we have gone through some major economic crisis – Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, Dot Com Bubble Burst in 2000 and Global Financial Crisis in 2008. During these crises, many companies went into cost-cutting mode where many staff were retrenched and the people who were left in the company were forced to pickup the extra workload and job responsibilities. These continued for many years and even during good times, many companies were still cautious about employing more staff. The companies wanted to keep themselves lean and nimble so they would be able to handle any economic downturns come what may. Some companies may even rationalise that if the current staff was able to pick up the slack by working harder and longer hours without the company increasing the headcount, why not?

In the past 1.5 years, pockets of the world economy recovered in an astounding rate and Singapore’s was one of these. However, some and maybe many companies did not or were not able to react fast enough, many employed people were left to work harder and longer hours to compensate for the increased workload. This increased stress and caused many people to become unhappy working people.

When I noticed my staff were overworked, I checked them and find out if they would need additional headcount to alleviate their workload. Recently, when I think an internal team of 2 staff were overworked and they were working at a capacity of 120% each, I recruited a new staff to join their team and now each of them are at about 80% capacity. I don’t think it is right to overwork my staff at over 100% capacity for long periods of time. This is neither healthy nor efficient.

All along, my staff has been operating on flexi hours. As long as their work is done and do not inconvenience their team members, my staff can start work later and leave earlier. We’ve mostly, if not all already, moved our documents and software (SaaS) to the cloud. My staff now has the flexibility to work from home if they choose to do so. They would more than happy to choose this option especially when there is a heavy downpour in the morning during rush hour. They get to keep their socks and shoes dry.

Being a boss, I would want my staff to be happy and enjoy their work. Singapore being one of the developed countries with the least number of public holidays (11 days), on top of the standard 14 days leave per annum, my staff gets off days on their birthdays. As we are SingaporeBrides.com, it only makes sense that our married staff get off days on their wedding anniversary. As we also operate SingaporeMotherhood.com, on top of government’s stipulated childcare leave, I’ve given my staff off days on each of their children’s birthdays.

As my staff number has increased and I’ve been pondering on how I can reward their years of service with the company. I’m never one who is big on paper certificates or engraved pens. After much contemplation, I decided it is best for my staff to mark and celebrate their anniversary with an off day.

I just announced this new off day to all my staff today. :)

When Singapore’s life expectancy is at 80, assuming our working lifespan is 40 years, we would be spending half our life working. It is therefore important for people to be happy in their work. In order to achieve work-life balance, I strongly believe it starts with the employer creating a conducive and understanding work environment. I don’t profess that my way is the way of making staff happy but I am just trying to do my best.

Most importantly, the least any employer can do is to respect their staff and their time.


Pitbull – Give Me Everything ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, Nayer