SINGAPORE: As of June 2015, the Republic had 300,500 self-employed workers making up 14 per cent of the workforce, the Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say said in Parliament on Monday (Feb 29).
The large majority - 93.1 per cent - are from the services industry, particularly in the transportation and storage sectors, he said in response to separate questions by Members of Parliament Ang Hin Kee (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC).
The total includes 169,500 "own account workers", which are self-employed persons who operate their own businesses or trades without employing any paid workers, he added.
About one quarter, or 21.4 per cent, of own account workers hold degrees and above, while 16.4 per cent hold diplomas and professional qualifications, he added. There was a lower proportion of own account workers with diplomas and above, at 37.8 per cent compared to 53.3 per cent among workers who are employees.
MEDISAVE AND WORK INJURY COMPENSATION FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED
In response to Mr Ang's query, Mr Lim said that self-employed persons are required to contribute to their Medisave Accounts to save for their healthcare needs.
However, only 82 per cent of such individuals had made regular Medisave contributions as of December 2015.
To encourage more self-employed persons to make timely and regular Medisave contributions, the Central Provident Fund Board reaches out to them via annual mailers and road shows and allows them to make their Medisave contributions via instalments, Mr Lim said.
He added that the CPF Board also works with various licensing authorities to ensure that self-employed licensees make regular Medisave contributions.
The Minister said that those who are self-employed are not covered under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA), which requires employers to compensate their employees who have work-related injuries, as they have no employer-employee relationship with their clients.
Nonetheless, he said the Government encourages those who are self-employed to purchase adequate insurance to protect themselves in the event of a work injury.
"I am heartened to note that NTUC’s Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit has been engaging various freelancer groups, such as taxi drivers and sports coaches, on this matter," he added.