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Bizlink to raise wages of employees with disabilities

Charitable organisation Bizlink Centre Singapore is launching a pilot programme to increase the wages of disabled people it employs. The charity, which helps disadvantaged people find jobs, will top up the wages of 10 employees to S$450 per month for one year from April.

SINGAPORE: Charitable organisation Bizlink Centre Singapore is launching a pilot programme to increase the wages of disabled people it employs.

The charity, which helps disadvantaged people find jobs, will top up the wages of 10 employees to S$450 per month for one year from April.

That amount is based on the government's Public Assistance rate for a single person household, which is at S$450.

The initiative is the centre's response to a study it jointly conducted with the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The study found that its clients who are employed report higher levels of contentment than unemployed people with disabilities.

They were said to have enjoyed a higher quality of personal relationships and community connectedness, better safety, and most of all, a higher standard of living.

Bizlink’s pilot programme is expected to benefit those who do low-productivity jobs such as packing, and they can expect a top-up of S$200 to S$300 per month.

It expects the pilot programme to cost about S$50,000, which will also pay for bonuses and employers' contribution to CPF.

Bizlink has 147 clients and although it has not decided who will be the 10 participating in the pilot, it will do means testing for the clients and check if they are eligible for other government assistance schemes.

Alvin Lim, CEO of Bizlink Centre Singapore, said: “Standard of living will tell you that you need to have certain things -- housing, shelter. All these things are not for free. To survive, of course you need to have -- as you work -- certain wages.”

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin also launched Bizlink’s Work Therapy Programme on Friday.

The programme provides training in social and work skills for people with disabilities before they gain employment.

Mr Tan said Singaporeans should continue to nurture values such as empathy, care and compassion, even as the nation progresses.

“The reality is, everyone of us is part of society. And we all can play a part -- big or small -- in making that difference,” he said.

Mr Tan also urged employers to start by reviewing the way they do business and to support such efforts in caring for the less privileged.

One participant of the Work Therapy Programme is Brendan Lee, 23, who has multiple disabilities, including mild cerebral palsy.

Last July, he joined the programme to learn social and work skills.

“I learn packing and folding envelopes, using the laptop and various kinds of things. I like it here because I have a lot of friends,” said Mr Lee.

The programme also pays participants a monthly allowance -- Mr Lee gets an allowance of S$50 per month. 

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