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Singapore Budget 2024: Key highlights for HR professionals

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Singapore Budget 2024: Key highlights for HR professionals

April 12, 2024

Amidst the dynamic landscape of Singapore’s economic policies and investments, Budget 2024 emerges as a pivotal framework for HR professionals, embodying a concerted effort to fortify workforce resilience and foster sustainable growth. The Minister of Finance emphasizes the importance of investing in human capital for economic growth. Initiatives like SkillsFuture play a crucial role in equipping Singaporeans with necessary skills for today’s job market.

Despite a proficient workforce, technological advancements are reshaping traditional roles, requiring ongoing skill development. Collaboration between NTUC and the Labour Movement is praised for empowering employees amidst these changes, highlighting Singapore’s commitment to innovation, sustainability and competitiveness globally. Let’s delve into the key highlights of this transformative budget and explore its implications and opportunities within the HR sector.

Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister, Lawrence Wong speech about Singapore Budget 2024

Workforce Support: Nurturing Talent and Well-being

Beyond skill development initiatives like SkillsFuture, the nation provides comprehensive support through various channels. These include cash assistance programs, contributions to CPF MediSave Accounts, NS LifeSG Credits for National Servicemen, personal income tax rebates, and contributions to CPF Retirement or Special Accounts.

  1. Cash Assistance: All Singaporeans aged 21 and above are eligible to receive cash assistance ranging from $200 to $2,150, providing crucial financial support. This infusion of financial support not only enhances employee morale but also bolsters their financial well-being, fostering a more engaged and productive workforce.
  2. CPF MediSave Account Contributions: Singaporeans benefit from contributions to their CPF MediSave accounts, ranging from $100 to $1,650. This CPF contributions to MediSave accounts ensure access to essential healthcare services for employees, underscoring the importance of holistic employee well-being within organizational strategies.
  3. NS LifeSG Credits: All the past and present national servicemen will receive a $200 NS LifeSG Credits, recognizing their contributions to the nation. By acknowledging the contributions of past and present national servicemen with NS LifeSG Credits, the budget celebrates a culture of national service while fostering a sense of pride and loyalty among employees.
  4. Personal Income Tax Rebates: In view of the rising cost of living, a 50% reduction on tax payable for the Year of Assessment 2024 will be granted to all taxpayers, with a capped at $200. The provision of personal income tax rebates offers tangible relief for taxpayers, enhancing their disposable income and augmenting employee satisfaction. The provision of personal income tax rebates offers tangible relief for taxpayers, enhancing their disposable income and augmenting employee satisfaction.

Uplifting Working Employees

Central to this commitment are tailored initiatives aimed at various segments of the working population. Mid-Career Development Initiatives cater to individuals seeking to transition or upskill in their careers, providing them with opportunities for professional growth and advancement.

Support for Lower-Wage Workers ensures that no one is left behind, offering financial assistance and resources to those who need it most amidst economic challenges. Additionally, Advancing Opportunities for ITE Graduates focuses on empowering vocational education graduates with pathways to meaningful employment and further education. The Singapore government’s initiatives indeed serve as a model that can inspire other countries facing similar socioeconomic challenges.

Introducing the SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme tailored for individuals aged 40 and above, aimed at enhancing skills and employability in evolving industries.

Mid-Career Development Initiatives

Introducing the SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme tailored for individuals aged 40 and above, aimed at enhancing skills and employability in evolving industries. Rolling out a $4,000 SkillsFuture Credit (Mid-Career) top-up in May 2024, designated for selected industry-oriented training courses with improved employability outcomes.

Providing a Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy for publicly funded full-time diploma programs, offering increased financial support for mid-career professionals seeking further education. Offering a monthly SkillsFuture Mid-Career Training Allowance of up to $3,000 for selected full-time courses over 24 months to facilitate uninterrupted learning.

The support measure in Budget 2024 tackling immediate challenges and shared future together.

Support for Lower-Wage Workers Amidst Rising Costs

Enhancing the Workfare Income Supplement scheme, increasing cash payouts up to a maximum of $4,900 annually and raising the qualifying income cap to $3,000, effective January 2025. Elevating the Local Qualifying Salary to $1,600 starting July 2024, aimed at improving wage standards for lower-wage workers.

Strengthening co-funding levels for the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme (PWCS), with contributions reaching a maximum of 50% this year, and raising the PWCS wage ceiling to $3,000 by 2025.

Support measures in Budget 2024 not meant to increase reliance of Singaporean on government but to help handle the rising costs and upskill.

Supporting & Enhancing Welfare for Families

Singapore Budget 2024 introduces comprehensive measures to enhance welfare for families, presenting opportunities for HR professionals to align organizational strategies with family-centric policies. Embracing these family-friendly practices not only strengthens employee engagement and retention but also fosters a culture of care and inclusivity within the organization.

Family support is a cornerstone of Singapore's social policies, as highlighted in the Budget 2024.

  1. Reduced Childcare Fee Caps: Starting in 2025, monthly full-day childcare fee caps in Government-supported preschools will reduce to $640 for Anchor Operators ,and $680 for Partner Operators, making quality childcare more affordable. It’s evident that Singapore Budget 2024 aims to make quality childcare more accessible and affordable through reduced childcare fee caps and enhanced preschool subsidies.
  2. Enhanced Preschool Subsidies: Preschool subsidies for lower-income family will be enhanced, ensuring accessibility to early childhood education and development programs.

    HR professionals can collaborate with childcare providers to explore partnerships or subsidies that ease the financial burden on employees with young children. Furthermore, promoting family-friendly policies such as parental leave, flexible working hours, and on-site childcare facilities can support employees in balancing work and family responsibilities, ultimately fostering loyalty and retention within the organization.

    The government's commitment to a sustainable future is evident through initiatives like the Income Inclusion Rule and support measures for sustainable development.

  3. ComLink+ Progress Packages: The Singapore government implementation of ComLink+ Progress Packages targets lower-income group with young children, promoting holistic family development through support for preschool education, employment, financial stability, and savings for home ownership.

    HR departments can complement these benefits and efforts by offering financial literacy workshops, career development programs, and employee assistance programs (EAPs) that address the diverse needs of employees and their families. With this, organizations can cultivate a supportive and inclusive workplace culture that values work-life balance and employee welfare.

    Refundable Investment Credit encourages companies to invest in sustainable initiatives.

  4. Increased Income Threshold for Tax Reliefs: The raise in the annual income threshold for dependent-related Personal Income Tax reliefs to $8,000 from the Year of Assessment 2025 provides additional financial relief for families supporting dependents.

    HR professionals can communicate these changes effectively to employees, ensuring they are aware of available tax reliefs and benefits that can alleviate financial pressures. Moreover, organizations can consider implementing flexible compensation packages or additional benefits to further support employees with dependents, demonstrating a commitment to their holistic well-being.

Enhancing Healthcare Support

The Singapore Budget 2024 also introduced measures aimed at enhancing healthcare support, these healthcare-focused policies intersect with HR strategies, highlighting opportunities for organizations to prioritize employee health and well-being.

  1. One-time MediSave Bonus: The provision of a one-time MediSave Bonus of up to $300 for adult Singaporeans born between 1974 and 2003 serves as a valuable enhancement to healthcare savings. From an HR perspective, this bonus reinforces the importance of proactive health management among employees.

    HR departments can leverage this initiative by promoting wellness programs, health screenings, and preventive care measures within the workplace. By encouraging employees to utilize their MediSave accounts for health-related expenses, organizations can foster a culture of health-consciousness and empower employees to take ownership of their well-being.

The Income Inclusion Rule fosters a sustainable future by incentivizing green investments.

  1. Reduced Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Budget 2024 initiates measures to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for Singaporean students with special needs in Special Education schools and Special Student Care Centers, ensuring affordability and accessibility to essential services. From an HR perspective, this initiative underscores the importance of creating an inclusive workplace environment that accommodates the diverse needs of employees with disabilities.

    HR departments can collaborate with relevant stakeholders to raise awareness about available support services and resources for employees with disabilities. By advocating for reasonable accommodations and facilitating access to assistive technologies or support networks, companies can empower employees with disabilities to thrive in the workplace.

    A Closer Look: SPD Sheltered Workshop - SPD

  2. Expanded Spaces in Sheltered Workshops and Day Activity Centre: The expansion of spaces in Sheltered Workshops and Day Activity Centers enhances support in employment and community integration for persons with disabilities. HR professionals can leverage this initiative by promoting inclusive hiring practices and creating pathways for meaningful employment opportunities within the organization.

    By partnering with disability support organizations or vocational training programs, HR departments can identify talent with diverse abilities and provide tailored support for their integration into the workforce. Moreover, companies can foster a culture of acceptance and respect by promoting diversity training, sensitivity workshops, and mentorship programs that promote understanding and collaboration among employees.

    Overall, the Budget 2024 sets a strategic course for Singapore's economic development and sustainability goals.

Strengthening CPF Contributions for Older Generation

From January 1, 2025, both employers and employees will contribute more to the CPF accounts of individuals aged 55 to 65. This change is meant to better support older employees as they near retirement.

Additionally, as the Special Account (SA) closes, any extra CPF contributions previously going to the SA will now go to the Retirement Account (RA) instead. This shift ensures that these funds go towards building retirement savings, up to the Full Retirement Sum (FRS). If members have already reached the FRS in their RA, these extra contributions will go to the Ordinary Account (OA), giving them flexibility in managing their retirement funds.

To help businesses manage any potential increase in costs due to these changes, a one-year CPF Transition Offset will be introduced. This offset, equal to half of the 2025 rise in employer CPF contributions, will be given automatically to employers. This proactive step aims to ease the financial strain on businesses, ensuring a seamless transition while prioritizing the financial well-being of senior employees.

SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit is introduced to facilitate workforce development through training programs.

CPF Retirement or Special Account

Singapore’s Budget 2024 brings significant changes aimed at bolstering retirement savings and financial security for citizens. Among the key announcements is a notable increase in Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates for individuals aged 55 to 65 by 1.5 percentage points, beginning in 2025. This move is designed to enhance retirement readiness seniors.

Additionally, the government has raised the Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS) to $426,000, quadrupling the Basic Retirement Sum. This adjustment offers higher potential returns for those planning their retirement.

Individuals aged 55 and above now have the option to boost their Retirement Account (RA) up to the prevailing ERS, providing an avenue for additional savings accumulation. The Central Provident Fund Special Accounts for persons aged 55 and above, will be closed effective from 2025. Overall, these measures signal a proactive approach towards addressing retirement adequacy in Singapore’s aging population.

The Enterprise Support Package addresses rising costs, offering assistance to companies across sectors.

Empowering Older Generation with The Majulah Package

The Majulah Package represents a landmark initiative aimed at empowering older employees to save more effectively for retirement. By incentivizing continued workforce participation through Earn and Save Bonus (ESB) and bolstering retirement savings via Retirement Savings Bonus (RSB) and MediSave Bonus (MSB), this comprehensive package underscores the value of long-term financial planning for employees approaching retirement age.

It helps people in their 50s and 60s save more money for retirement. This allocates $8.2 billion to address retirement and healthcare needs, benefiting 1.6 million Singaporeans, including Pioneer and Merdeka Generation seniors. Three main parts to this package:

The Budget 2024 reflects the government's proactive stance in supporting businesses and fostering innovation.

  1. Retirement Savings Bonus (Dec 2024): Seniors with retirement savings below the Basic Retirement Sum will get a one-time bonus called the Retirement Savings Bonus (RSB). Offers a $1,000 to $1,500 one-off bonus to CPF Retirement or Special Account for Singaporeans with CPF retirement savings below the 2023 Basic Retirement Sum ($99,400), bolstering retirement savings. This aim to strengthen their savings for retirement.
  2. MediSave Bonus (Dec 2024): All seniors will receive a one-time bonus called the MediSave Bonus (MSB). Grants a $750 to $1,500 one-off bonus to CPF MediSave Account, ensuring Singaporeans have additional funds for healthcare expenses and medical needs. This aimed at providing extra support for their medical expenses.

Navigating Towards a Brighter Future

Budget 2024 heralds a new era of opportunities and challenges for HR professionals, while also forging a more united nation. Addressing workforce empowerment, healthcare, retirement challenges, and support for vulnerable groups, it sets a progressive path for Singapore’s future.

By prioritizing workforce support, retirement security economic resilience and challenges, family welfare, healthcare inclusivity, and skills development, the Singapore Budget 2024 lays a robust foundation for HR excellence in the years ahead and into the future. As HR practitioners navigate the evolving landscape of policies and practices, embracing the principles outlined in Budget 2024 will be instrumental in driving organizational success and employee well-being into the future.

For more detailed information, the full Budget 2024 Statement is available at mof.gov.sg/singaporebudget. Whereas, the Ministry of Finance’s media release on the Singapore Budget 2024 can be accessed at mof.gov.sg/singaporebudget/media-centre/media-releases.

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