The Workfare Income Supplement Scheme (WIS) is a permanent scheme that helps lower wage workers in Singapore by supplementing their income in cash and CPF top-ups.
Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) aims to support Singaporean workers who are in the bottom 20% in terms of earnings. According to PM Lee’s National Day Rally 2021 speech, Workfare supports about 500,000 workers at a spending of $850 million a year. The Government aims to increase this to $1.1 billion in two years’ time which would increase the payout amounts to recipients.
The scheme was enhanced in 2020 to raise the qualifying income ceiling from $2,000 to $2,300 and increased the payout amounts. The Workfare Special Payment was also introduced in recognition of the fact that lower income earners were more greatly impacted by the COVID-19 recession. To support lower wage workers, the WIS is enhanced again for Work Year 2023, as announced in Budget 2022.
Here’s what you should know about WIS and how much eligible Singaporeans will receive each year.
Eligibility Criteria For Workfare Income Supplement
For employees to qualify for Workfare, you must be a Singapore Citizen, above the age of 35 and earning a monthly gross income of no more than $2,300. The age requirement is waived for those who have disabilities.
[Update] From Work Year 2023, The age requirement will be lowered to 30. The income cap will also be extended to $2,500. This will benefit more lower wage workers. Additionally, all persons with disabilities will qualify for the highest payout tier regardless of age.
For self-employed persons, in addition to fulfilling the above criteria, you will also need to declare your net trade income and make the necessary MediSave contributions (ranging from 4.5% to 9%) of your declared trade income.
For both employees and self-employed persons, you will not be eligible to receive WIS if you:
– live in a property with an annual value of more than $13,000 assessed as at 31 December of the year before;
– own two or more properties; or
– if married, you and your spouse together own two or more properties, or if the assessable income of your spouse for the preceding Year of Assessment exceeds $70,000.
What Do You Need To Do To Receive Workfare?
If you are eligible and are employed by a company, you will be automatically assessed based on your employer’s CPF contributions and no further action is required on your part. The WIS payout will be made every month with a 2 month’s delay. For example, you will receive your WIS payout for work done in January at the end of March.
If you are eligible and self-employed, you will be assessed on your declared income from the year before. The WIS payout will be once a year after you declared your income and made the necessary Medisave contribution. For example, the last Friday of March in 2019 is the last date to submit your trade income declaration and MediSave contributions for work done in 2018 and the payout will be at end April 2019.
If you worked as both an employee and a self-employed person, you will first be assessed for your work done as an employee and you will receive monthly WIS if you meet the criteria. At the end of the work year, you will be assessed for your eligibility for additional WIS, based on your total income for the year (both employee and self-employed income).
How Much Is The Payouts For Eligible Workfare Recipients?
Your WIS payout is tiered depending on your age and income earned. The total amount has also been increased; thus your 2020 payout will be higher than your 2019 payout.
|Age||Maximum Annual WIS|
|2018 and 2019||From 2020||From 2023|
|30 – 34||–||–||$2,100|
|35 – 44||$1,500*||$1,700*||$3,000|
|45 – 54||$2,200||$2,500||$3,600|
|55 – 59||$2,900||$3,300||$3,600|
* Including persons with disabilities who are below 35. From 2023, all persons with disabilities will qualify for the highest payout tier regardless of age.
If you are an employee, the WIS is paid out in 40% cash and 60% CPF contribution. This means that you will be receiving around an additional $54 in cash and $81 in CPF contribution every month if you are between the ages of 35 to 44 and earning a gross monthly salary of $1,000.* Including persons with disabilities who are below 35 (Source: Workfare)
If you are self-employed, the WIS is paid out in 10% cash and 90% MediSave contribution. This means that you will be receiving around $104 in cash and $932 in MediSave contribution as a lump sum once a year if you are between the ages of 35 to 44 and earned a net trade income of $10,000 and made the required MediSave contribution of $450.
You can calculate your actual payout using Workfare’s online calculator.
Workfare Special Payment Announced In Budget 2020
Additionally, a Workfare Special Payment of $3,000 was announced as part of the Budget 2020 in March 2020 for all those who received WIS for work done in 2019. This would be paid out in July 2020 ($1,500) and October 2020 ($1,500).
As announced in the Ministerial Statement on 17 August 2020, Workfare Special Payment will be extended to include those who received WIS payment for work done in 2020. This would accommodate those workers whose income has been reduced this year because of the current crisis but had not previously qualified for the Workfare Special Payment because their income in 2019 was above the qualifying threshold. They will receive the full payout of $3,000 from October 2020 onwards.
Workfare Gives More To Workers, Without Costing Businesses More
Workfare Income Supplement payouts are undoubtedly a welcome boost for the bottom 20% of income-earners in Singapore to put more in their pockets for daily expenses and medical costs.
We should also note that since WIS is also not a minimum wage, the cost of the additional wage top-ups is borne by the government and not by employers. This has the dual benefit of increasing the earnings of workers, without placing additional costs on businesses.
This article was originally published on 20 August 2020 and updated to reflect the latest information.
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