Employees hired as individual contractors by the public sector
Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on employees hired as individual contractors by the public sector
Parliamentary Sitting: 10 September 2018
Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Prime Minister with regard to employees hired as individual contractors by the public sector (a) how many employees does the public service have on such contracts currently; (b) what guidelines are in place to protect the interests of these workers in terms of leave benefits and compensation review; (c) what channels are available to them to seek redress on their grievances; (d) whether there are limits to the duration of such contracts; and (e) when such contractors go on to secure permanent employment in the public sector, whether there are provisions to ensure that their prior contract work counts towards the compensation and grade they obtain.
Written Reply by Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade & Industry and Minister-in-charge of the Public Service.
The intent of the contract framework is to allow public agencies the flexibility to employ officers to undertake specific projects over a fixed period, or as a means to assess their suitability for the job. As at 31 December 2017, about 10% of all public officers or 14,600 public officers are employed on contracts, excluding those on re-employment contracts. Contract officers generally enjoy the same leave and medical benefits and are paid according to the same salary structure as permanent officers1.
Public agencies can appoint officers on contract for up to four years to assess their suitability for the job. For officers who perform well in the job and are assessed to be suitable for a long term career with the Public Service, agencies will offer them permanent positions after one or two years. When contract officers are emplaced as permanent officers, their period of service is considered continuous from the contract employment episode. Agencies also consider the period of contract service when determining the substantive grade and corresponding salary to offer at the point of emplacement.
As adopters of the Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling, public agencies have grievance handling procedures in place for officers, whether contract or permanent, to raise their grievances and for these grievances to be properly investigated and resolved.
 Ministries have the flexibility to pay contract officers a gross monthly salary with variable salary components according to the salary structure of permanent officers, or redistribute the same components into the contract officer’s monthly salary while maintaining cost neutrality.