Record $635m in CPF arrears recovered in 2016
380k employees benefit, 377 employers convicted of payment violations
A record $635.1 million in arrears was recovered by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board last year, it said in a statement yesterday.
The sum recovered was from underpayment, non-payment and late payment of CPF contributions by employers for more than 380,000 employees.
Figures over the last six years show an upward trend in CPF arrears recovered.
In 2012, the figure stood at $293 million. It rose to $420 million the following year. While it dipped to $378.2 million in 2014, the figure rose to $516 million in 2015, a record until this year's sum was revealed.
Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee said one reason for the trend is that certain industries have been struggling in the recent economic climate, particularly the retail and food and beverage sectors.
Mr Wee told The New Paper: "In the past two years, more companies - both SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and large companies - have been closing due to the economic slowdown, and most of them are SMEs."
Over the years, though, most of the arrears came from companies paying their employee CPF contributions late.
Last year, $19.7 million was recovered from 1,608 employers in cases of underpayment or non-payment of CPF contributions due to 16,202 employees.
One such employee was Ms Tan, who lodged an official complaint with the CPF Board in April.
In her early 30s, Ms Tan, who declined to be named in full, worked for a small public relations and marketing company for four months but quit because she did not receive her CPF payment.
She said: "I joined the SME as a part-timer in December last year after being retrenched from my previous company.
"I joined with a CPF agreement, and I worked three days a week and was to be paid at the end of every month."
Her salary for December came in late and while the CPF component was stated in the payslip, it was not paid.
"I got my CPF for December to February as a lump sum at the end of March. But it wasn't paid again in March and I decided to quit," she said.
Last year, 32 employers voluntarily came forward upon realising they were not compliant with the CPF Act.
The CPF Board says it actively follows up on feedback from members of the public to help workers recover CPF monies owed.
In one particular case in March 2015, the board received an anonymous tip-off that a restaurant was not paying CPF for its part-time employees.
Officers visited the restaurant and the employer admitted that he did not pay CPF for part-time employees, claiming he was unaware that they were also eligible for CPF contributions.
He owed about $50,000 for 118 employees for the period between January 2013 and March 2015 and the board worked out an instalment plan to help him pay up fully.
There were 22 convictions for non-payment and underpayment of CPF contributions and 350 convictions for late payment last year.
All convicted employers were fined and ordered to pay the CPF arrears by the State Court.
To report non-payment or underpayment of CPF contributions, or non-compliance with the Employment Act, members of the public can call 1800-221-9922 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.