SINGAPORE: Several policy changes will kick in this year for the manpower, transport, health and education sectors.
A slew of new policies will kick in for the manpower sector.
The first phase of changes to the Employment Act will likely kick in, in April.
About 300,000 Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) earning S$4,500 or less a month will have better protection in areas such as paid sick leave and unfair dismissal, on top of salary protection.
About 150,000 non-PMEs earning S$2,500 or less a month will get protection for their hours of work, overtime pay, rest days and annual leave.
And in continued efforts to tighten the reliance on foreign manpower, all new S-Pass applications for mid-level skilled foreigners will have to meet the new qualifying salary criteria of S$2,200.
There will also be progressive increases in levies for both S-Pass and Work Permit holders for all sectors, from July 2014.
In the transport sector, changes to the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system will kick in, in February.
The COE for small cars will take into consideration its engine power on top of engine capacity.
There will be a cap imposed on engine power on cars in Category A.
Small cars must have an engine power output not exceeding 97 kilowatts or the equivalent of 130 brake horsepower (bhp). That is on top of having engine capacities of not more than 1,600cc.
The Land Transport Authority said the new categorisation is to "better ensure some element of social equity in car ownership".
Meanwhile, from January, the qualifying age for the Community Health Assist Scheme will be removed to cover those in the lower middle-income households.
That group will now have access to subsidised medical and dental care at over 800 private clinics.
Medisave will be extended for more outpatient treatments, and subsidies will be expanded to more health screenings.
And if you have school-going children, you would be happy to know that all primary schools, including the popular ones, will now have to set aside at least 40 places for students with no "connections" with the school.
It is part of the Education Ministry's efforts to level up students and even out opportunities.
The first five kindergartens run by the Education Ministry will also open its doors when the new school term starts.
The move is aimed at offering quality pre-school education that is affordable, especially for children from poorer families. - CNA/nd
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