A new incentive, the Uplifting Employment Credit (UEC), will be introduced to support the hiring of ex-offenders, Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang said in Parliament on Mar. 1 at the Committee of Supply debates.
The initiative will take effect from Apr. 1, with employers receiving time-limited wage offsets for hiring ex-offenders.
What does the UEC entail?
Under the new UEC, employers will automatically qualify for a wage offset of 20 per cent of monthly income for the first nine months if they:
- Hire ex-offenders through the Yellow Ribbon Singapore, Industrial and Services Co-Operative Society, or halfway houses engaged by Singapore Prison Service
- Hire Singapore citizen or permanent resident ex-offenders earning below S$4,000 a month, released within three years prior to employment
- Make timely mandatory CPF contributions
- Do not fall under the employer exclusion list
This offset is capped at S$600 per month per employee, up to S$5,400 in total.
The payouts will be disbursed annually to eligible employers, based on wages for eligible employees during the relevant period.
In addition, employers who hire eligible ex-offenders directly can also apply through IRAS to receive the UEC, Gan said.
They will receive the UEC for new ex-offenders hired between April 2023 and December 2025, she added.
The government will then review the scheme thereafter to assess its effectiveness in improving ex-offenders’ employment outcomes, such as job retention and wages.
"We hope that this will go some way in supporting the employment of ex-offenders," she said.
Challenges faced by ex-offenders
Gan described the situation of ex-offenders as such:
"Ex-offenders sometimes face challenges such as stigmatisation and limited career opportunities upon their release. The problems can be compounded by low educational qualifications, lack of industry-relevant skills and recent work experience."
The challenges are also more acute in the initial years following their release as ex-offenders face problems transiting from prison to the work environment.
For ex-offenders, employment is critical for their reintegration into society, Gan added.
Top image via Singapore Prison Service/Facebook