New NTUC scheme offers welfare benefits to SME employees

Employees of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can now enjoy the same suite of welfare benefits available to union members, except for workplace protection.

This decision came after the labour movement rolled out a new scheme yesterday to raise the well-being of SME workers.

New NTUC scheme offers welfare benefits to SME employees

The new scheme is an added avenue for SMEs to provide staff welfare benefits, on top of grants and help offered by government agencies such as Spring Singapore.

The NTUC Club Corporate Membership Scheme came on the back of feedback from SMEs that they found it challenging to provide their staff with welfare benefits and match larger firms owing to a lack of resources.

The membership scheme is open only to firms with memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with the National Trades Union Congress’ (NTUC) U SME initiative, and SMEs will have to fork out S$10 monthly for each employee, who will enjoy benefits from both NTUC Club and U SME. The NTUC Club benefits include access to club facilities and venues, discounts at select merchants, and group insurance coverage of up to S$30,000.

At NTUC U SME, a labour movement initiative aimed at tackling the challenges facing SMEs, firms and employees can also take part in training and development programmes, and networking events, among other perks.

Yeo Guat Kwang, NTUC’s assistant director-general
Yeo Guat Kwang, NTUC’s assistant director-general. Photo courtesy: alchetron

“A total of about 13,000 SMEs have inked MOUs with NTUC U SME, and they employ an estimated 300,000 workers,” said Yeo Guat Kwang, NTUC’s assistant director-general.

He added that while the labour movement would reach out to these firms first, other SMEs keen to register are welcome to join the U SME network. It is hoped that ‘all SMEs’ would be on board.

Sustainable packaging firm Greenpac is among the firms that will sign up for the scheme. Its chief executive, Susan Chong, said hiring and retaining talent was a “big challenge” for SMEs, and providing a “fair workplace” was key.

At the NTUC event, NTUC secretary-general Chan Chun Sing held a two-hour closed-door dialogue session with 35 SME leaders on how firms can navigate the future economy.

Among other things, they discussed how SMEs could leverage the NTUC’s network as a platform for knowledge exchange, and how the labour movement can offer services to care for SME workers.

Chan noted that NTUC can also link SMEs to partners that could help them capitalise on digital capabilities to expand overseas. Chan said the companies also discussed how the NTUC could help firms raise revenues and lower costs, thereby improving their bottom lines.

In total, there are more than 180,000 SMEs in Singapore.