Updated: 02/08/2014 02:09

Bizlink introduces living wage for its disabled workers



Bizlink introduces living wage for its disabled workers

Home-grown charity Bizlink Centre is promoting higher standards of living for their workers with disabilities. 

And it's doing so by topping up their pay to make it a 'living wage' - or the minimum level of income required to fulfil one's basic needs. 

Bizlink, which hires persons with disabilities and disadvantaged backgrounds, currently pays its workers according to their productivity. 

This could be as modest as $50 per month. 

But that could all change with the launch of a year-long pilot scheme in April. 

Under the Bizlink Income Supplement Scheme or BISS, up to 10 disabled workers could have their pay topped up to $450 per month. 

The wage is pegged to the government's Public Assistance allowance for a single person household. 

Chairman of Bizlink Centre Sureash Balan spoke passionately on this during his charity's Lunar New Year celebration on Friday. 

"A basic living wage is necessary for an individual to maintain a certain degree of dignity. However it does not mean that one should have unrealistic notions and live an extravagant lifestyle based on his or her limited productivity. One should be realistic and align his career and salary expectations to one's productive ability. The sooner one realises this and be contented with their lives, the better." 

The scheme is funded by the charity's 50 thousand dollar Philanthropic Fund. 

Acting Minster for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, who joined in the Lunar New Year festivities, also launched the charity's new Work Therapy Programme.

Under the programme, 16 people with disabilities are assigned simple duties - like slotting letters into envelopes, placing rings in plastics bags, and data entry - and given a monthly allowance. 

The work doubles up as a form of therapy for these workers as it improves their psychomotor skills and mental dexterity. 

Human resource professional Helen Lee's son is enrolled in the programme. 

23-year-old Brandon Lee, who was born with Asperger's Syndrome, mild cerebral palsy and delayed development, has been with Bizlink the past six months. 

His mother says he's grown more independent. 

"I am contented if he's in a very safe and secure environment. It's holistic. They cover the mental area, the social area, the physical. They have a lot of activities. It covers a whole range and they have exercise programmes so he's very happy." 

-By Valerie Koh

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