Recently, there was an announcement about lower-wage self-employed people (SEPs) having to contribute to their Medisave to qualify for government payouts. Under the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) Scheme, eligible lower-wage workers, including those who are self-employed and freelancers, get up to $2667 in Workfare payouts a year.
To benefit from Workfare, all lower-wage employees and SEPs must contribute to their CPF. This is to ensure that they take personal responsibility in saving for their retirement and healthcare needs, even as the government supports them through Workfare.
More schemes apart from WIS to help freelancers and SEPs
Apart from the WIS scheme, which is given only to eligible lower-wage SEPs, there were and still are many schemes in place to help Singaporeans since Covid-19 has hit. In 2020, $9000 was given out to every eligible SEP who qualified for Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS). More recently, through the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF), the Government has also doled out additional support to our taxi drivers and private-hire drivers. Eligible drivers will receive $300 a month per vehicle from July over two months, and $150 a month per vehicle in the third month. Since Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) was announced, this scheme has been further extended from 22 Jul 2021 to 30 Sep 2021 to help our drivers.
To help those who are not eligible for the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund, the NTUC U FSE Relief Scheme for freelance combi bus, limousine and delivery drivers was also launched. Those eligible received a one-time cash relief from $200 to $650. This relief scheme was designed to help those who are in need but may have slipped through the cracks and were not eligible for the earlier schemes provided by the Government.
What about legal advice and protection?
We all know it’s been an exceptionally tough year and many sectors have been hit. Freelancers and SEPs have been additionally vulnerable as they do not have the usual safeguards of a steady income and leave benefits enjoyed by a salaried employee. Freelancers and creatives also often face the issue of not getting paid for their work. It is an additional worry during this pandemic to be losing jobs and having to chase payment for completed work. What many freelancers don’t know is that they can seek legal advice during such situations. And NTUC members are given free legal advice to help them navigate the terms of their contracts for better protection. With the many different schemes and help in place, we hope that all SEPs will tide through this tough period.