A survey of more than 1,000 Singaporean small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) employees and business owners commissioned by Prudential Singapore has revealed that medical benefits are a big factor for employees looking to join or stay with their firms. Nine in 10 respondents wanted their employers to provide healthcare coverage, with 60% saying they were more willing to join an SME that had medical benefits and 40% adding they would be likelier to stay in such an SME.

Thirteen per cent of respondents worked in an SME without medical benefits, a proportion that doubled (27%) among SMEs with 10 or less employees.

Despite SMEs accounting for 99% of businesses and employing 70% of Singapore’s workforce, many do not provide group insurance. Two in five SME owners admitted allocating SGD10,000 and below for medical benefits every year, instead opting to give full-time staff a lump sum every year to buy their own medical coverage or relying on Singapore’s mandatory health insurance, MediShield Life.

Employers are not legally required to offer healthcare insurance in Singapore. But the survey shows that having benefits in place may attract more talent.

In an interview with The Straits Times, Prudential Singapore CEO Dennis Tan said employees have become more aware of their health and the need for insurance protection since the pandemic. Having the necessary protection assures them that their healthcare needs are taken care of, so they can focus on their work, Tan said.

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