SINGAPORE — In support of efforts to embrace a gig economy in Singapore and to provide stronger workplace protection for freelancers, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has launched a mediation subsidy for those caught in disputes relating to work done by media freelancers.
Media freelancers and firms in such a dispute may now get a 60 per cent subsidy for mediation services at the Singapore Mediation Centre — capped at S$500 for small cases (where the sum of claim is S$60,000 or less) and S$2,500 for cases where the sum of claim is above S$60,000.
The authority is also working with the National Trades Union Congress, media firms and freelancers to develop a standard that spells out how media freelancers and companies should engage with one another, which may cover areas such as clear terms of agreement, timely payment, setting up a process of dispute resolution, and ownership of intellectual property.
The standard is scheduled to be rolled out by the second half of the year, following consultations with media companies and freelancers.
IMDA will take action against firms that wrongfully delay or withhold payment to their employees and freelancers.
Announcing these initiatives during the debate on the ministry’s budget yesterday, Minister of State (Communications and Information) Chee Hong Tat said: “These moves aim to encourage a better work relationship between media companies and freelancers. I also urge freelancers to focus on their career development and prepare for retirement adequacy, including contributing regularly to their (Central Provident Fund) and Medisave accounts.”
Freelancers form a sizeable part of the media workforce and are often hired for writing, post-production work, and character animation, among other roles.
A number of measures have also been introduced to support media freelancers, including training grants for specialised media courses and a Code of Best Practices for television content production among production firms, vendors and freelancers.
To better prepare the media workforce for the digital economy, IMDA will focus its funding support on courses to equip media practitioners with new skills such as digital marketing and the production of augmented/virtual reality content, as well as those that deepen their core skills, such as storytelling.
IMDA will also work with key sector players, such as MediaCorp and industry associations, to promote industry standards. A skills framework will also be developed for the sector, providing guidance on job roles, progression pathways and performance expectations. The industry will be consulted on the framework later this year.
For the info-communications and technology (ICT) sector, such a framework will be put in place by the third quarter of this year. It will also be a guide for training providers when they design programmes to cater to the skills in demand, and help employers optimise investments in skills training.
The framework is part of the TechSkills Accelerator (Tesa) initiative launched last year to build and develop a skilled ICT workforce, so as to enhance jobseekers’ employability.
As of mid-February, Tesa has helped about 8,400 ICT professionals acquire new skills through short courses and certifications.
Another 1,600 were involved in company-led training programmes, also part of Tesa’s initiatives where fresh and mid-level professionals learn specialist skills in cyber security, data analytics, network infrastructure and software development, and have an opportunity to land a job in the firm where they were trained. KELLY NG