Employing Workers with Special Needs in Singapore - What Other Grants Support Is There? [Updated]

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Employing Workers with Special Needs in Singapore to the World

Employing Workers with Special Needs in Singapore

It is estimated that about five percent of Singapore’s population is disabled, with over 132,000 Singaporeans aged between 18-49 (ages where people would typically be gainfully employed).

Singapore has always managed to keep unemployment levels low, but for this sizeable group of disabled workers, finding employers who will take a chance on them has been difficult. And unfairly so, since many of these individuals with disabilities are just as capable at their jobs as their able-bodied peers.

Employment options for these Singaporean workers with special needs need not be limited. While they require a certain amount of support, they can bring just as much expertise and professionalism to their jobs as any other worker.

For companies looking to fill their staffing gaps (and, hopefully, to engage their employees on a humane and emotional level), allowing barriers to employment to hinder a person with disability is counter-productive. 

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The Obstacles Workers with Disabilities Face

Many people with disabilities suffer from shame related disorders or low self-esteem due to society treating them as less capable of doing certain tasks compared to others without disabilities. This does more harm than good, and it takes away a huge opportunity employers could benefit from if they were willing to give these individuals an interview and see that they are excellent workers for a variety of positions.

Misconceptions that people often have include the notion that workers with disabilities receive unfair special treatment, and that they cost the company more money - either to accommodate their needs at the workplace or to tolerate their lower work productivity.

In reality, these are all either untrue or grossly exaggerated.

Candidates with disabilities are often more than capable of fulfilling the duties listed in their job description. Some reasonable accommodation may be required on the part of their current employer to help remove any barriers which may inhibit them from doing their work, but that is not the same as giving them any undue advantage over their counterparts without disabilities and cannot be considered special treatment.

There are typically also very few modifications and concessions that are required to employ a person with disability.

Employment Assistance for Persons with Disabilities - Get Funding and Support in Singapore

Employers who hire persons with disabilities in Singapore are not doing so out of some sort of moral obligation (unless they wish to set one for themselves). Simply put, if they are in the market for a valued worker anyway, then refusing to consider qualified special needs employees would just limit their options.

Having said that, there is legitimate recognition that there are some added costs that comes with hiring people with special needs, and that a way to help increase their chances of employment is to provide some slight incentives for employers to do so.

To that end, a number of funding and support from the Government has been made available.

SGUnited Jobs and Skills Schemes for Persons with Disabilities

To enhance access to employment and training opportunities for persons with disabilities amid Covid-19, three new schemes under the SG United Jobs and Skills Framework were launched in January 2021 by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. These schemes are administered by SG Enable, which is largely the focal point to support Singaporeans with disabilities for training, employment and information.

These schemes aim to lower the costs for employers, host companies, and training providers in offering employment opportunities to persons with disabilities. They will provide between six and twelve months of support, depending on the length of the individual programmes.

The three schemes are:

Jobs Growth Initiative

The Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) is another scheme under the SG United Jobs & Skills Framework. It provides up to 18 months of salary support of 50 percent of the first $6,000 of gross monthly wages, for each new local person with disability hired by employers from September 2020 to September 2021 (inclusive). Eligible employers will automatically receive their JGI payouts. More details can be found here.

The Open Door Programme (ODP) Grant

Another Government-funded initiative, this time by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the Workforce Singapore (WSG), which is administered by SG Enable, the Open Door Programme encourages employers to hire, train and integrate persons with disabilities by providing grants and employment services to ODP-registered employers.

These grants and services include:

Job Redesign Grant for Employees with Disabilities

This grant helps employers to recruit and retain persons with disabilities by supporting up to 90 percent of the job redesign costs, capped at S$20,000 per employee with disability, whichever is lower. It can be used to defray the cost for the following job redesign initiatives:

  • Purchase of equipment

  • Workplace modifications

  • Redesigning of job scopes or processes

  • Consultancy Services

To apply for the Job Redesign Grant, employers are to complete the Job Redesign Application Form here and email to opendoor@sgenable.sg. A representative from SG Enable will then follow up on the application.

Training Grant

Employers are encouraged to support their employees with disabilities to upgrade their skills through training. They can then receive funding of up to 95 percent of the course fee. This funding applies to employees with disabilities being sent to training programmes supported by SG Enable.

In addition, funding of up to 90 percent is also disbursed for workshops or courses that employees without disabilities are sent to for the purposes of building confidence in working with colleagues with disabilities.

For more information on the Training grant, one can refer to WSG’s website.

Recruitment, Job Placement, and Job Support Services

Employers who register on the ODP Job Portal, will receive recruitment assistance from SG Enable and its appointed partners. For every person with disability placed by them, up to 1 year of job support will be provided.

To register as an Open Door Employer, one need only login at this website via Singpass. Upon login, select “For Employer” in the side bar and click on “Register Here” to register as a new employer.

Enabling Employment Credit (EEC)

The EEC scheme is to support the employer of persons with disabilities who are aged 13+ and have a monthly income of less than S$4,000. It provides a wage offset of up to 20 percent of the employees’ monthly income, capped at a maximum of S$400 per month for each employee.

On top of that, if the employee with disabilities has been unemployed for the last 6 months, the employer will receive an extra wage offset of 10percent for the first 6 months of the contract. For more information one can click here.

Final Words

We hope you now know everything about employing workers with special needs in Singapore. As a responsible employer, it is important to have an understanding of these laws and what they mean for your business by the time new hires start work. In the same way, your company can also be eligible for government grants when it employs workers with disabilities.

Read also: Income Tax 2021: Tax Deductions On Work From Home Expenses

Read also: Singapore Businesses’ Guide to Hiring Interns + Grants For Interns 2021


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