In Parliament on Tuesday (1 September), People’s Action Party (PAP) MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Mr Chong Kee Hiong said that employers should change their thinking when it comes to barring full-time employees from moonlighting or taking up a second job.
He proposed that employees should instead be allowed to take up a second job for “better job security”, though added that this should be subject to labour regulations to ensure workers are protected from overwork and to regulate potential conflict of interests.
Mr Chong, who is also the CEO of Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust said that workers could learn new skills and apply them to pursue and additional vocation within the same company or take up a different, second job. He noted that encouraging this practice would also people to broaden their skillsets and allow “more flexibility in career switches within a short window of time” if necessary.
He went on to suggest that employers should identify complementary sectors that are “sufficiently differentiated to provide resilience through diversification” which would also allow existing employees to take up “concurrent positions” in different arms of the company.
Mr Chong later said that while this “dual-job” approach may seem “out-of-the-box”, it should be recognised that many Singaporeans possess multiple skillsets and would be able to contribute “at a higher level” within the same company or even take on a second job to diversity their sources of income.
Even so, Mr Chong was careful to acknowledge that this approach may not work for every person or job. However, he said that companies and employees who are willing to try should be allowed to do so, adding that the government could even incentivise companies to adopt this formula.
Naturally, the suggestion to take up a second job in order to “diversify income” and ensure “better job security” coming from a part-time MP who is also a CEO of a real estate company did not go down well with netizens.
The Mothership.sg Facebook post on this matter was inundated irate members of the public who pointed out that many Singaporeans are already struggling to find one job, let alone two, especially since they are competing with migrant workers for the same positions.
Several netizens also asked if Mr Chong’s suggestion means he is implying that the cost of living in Singapore is so high, resulting in the need for people to take up a second job.
A couple of people pointed out that they were already juggling paid work as well as unpaid care work—caring for children and elderly parents—which leaves them with little time to find another job.
People highlighted that working multiple jobs also means sacrificing time with their families.
In a different vein, there were netizens who noted that it is a “sad” day when Singaporeans are encouraged by its leaders to secure a second job for “better security” as it means the government has failed the people.
A couple of people also astutely pointed out that a second job doesn’t necessarily mean better job security, especially in this pandemic-affected economy.
One person suggested that better job security for Singaporeans can be achieved by lowering the quota of migrant workers in all sectors instead of raising the salary cap for them or asking citizens to take up a second job.
While another person noted that the issue of job security can be addressed by implementing a minimum wage and better retrenchment benefits so that Singaporeans won’t have to resort to taking up a second job just to earn a livable wage.