NTUC calls for Fair Protection of the Singaporean Core amid rising retrenchments
[Source: NTUC U Portal]
As Singapore’s economic outlook remains uncertain, businesses are being affected and workers’ jobs are at risk, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is proposing a Fair Retrenchment Framework (FRF) to further guide companies on responsible retrenchment practices.
With more retrenchments becoming inevitable in the coming months, NTUC calls on companies to ensure openness, transparency and consultation with our unions and workers, and observe the FRF in order to protect our workers’ rights and ensure fair treatment for workers who are affected by retrenchments.
The FRF would complement the existing tripartite advisory and guidelines on managing excess manpower and responsible retrenchment.
Fair Retrenchment Framework
The FRF sets out the guiding principles:
Principle 1: Protecting Singaporean Core
As Singapore is an open economy, companies here create employment opportunities for both Singaporeans and foreigners to meet business objectives. When retrenchments are inevitable, NTUC calls on companies to implement fair selection criteria to ensure that the Singaporean Core is safeguarded with Singaporeans keeping their jobs in terms of job protection and redeployment, while due considerations are given to foreign workers.
a) Companies should have in place a set of selection criteria for managing excess manpower based on business needs and reasonableness. This may include reviewing the ability, experience, skills and occupational qualification of employees required to meet future business needs.
b) Companies should ensure an ageless workplace with balanced and equitable approach. This takes into account keeping older employees who may possess skills, experience, knowledge, maturity and reliability; and evaluating them based on equal basis.
c) As foreigners are intended to augment Singaporeans in the workforce, companies may consider keeping foreigners in their workforce if they have special / critical skills for the continuity of the business. Companies should also ensure that these skills are transferred to Singaporeans in the longer term.
Principle 2: Preserving Jobs
NTUC reiterates that retrenchments should be the last resort for companies. Before considering retrenchments, as an early intervention, companies should work with unions and workers to find ways to preserve as many jobs as possible and minimise downtime to ensure that the companies have the manpower capacity to seize business opportunities when the economy recovers. These may include measures such as:
a) Implementing collective pay reductions
b) Providing secondment opportunities for workers
c) Placing workers on shorter work week/ no pay leave / furlough
d) Allowing workers to switch to part time contract
e) Considering job-share arrangements for workers
f) Tapping on Government assistance schemes to mitigate manpower costs
Principle 3: Providing Job Support
If retrenchments are inevitable, NTUC calls on companies to provide for fair retrenchment packages and processes so that workers, who have contributed to the companies’ growth and performance, are treated fairly and with dignity, even as they are asked to leave the companies.
Companies should also come onboard NTUC Job Security Council (JSC) to provide necessary support to workers who may be or are affected by the retrenchments and help them seek new employment and training for new skills that are required for new jobs.
NTUC’s Job Strategy
NTUC recognises that companies are already facing many difficult challenges now in keeping their businesses afloat. Thus, NTUC is reiterating the call for companies and unions to work together to support NTUC’s Job strategy to help companies through this crisis and to help preserve jobs for workers:
a) Support job preservation by accepting cost cutting measures as well as tap on as many Government assistance schemes to ease cash flow and manage cost.
b) Match workers to jobs by assisting them to transit to sectors that require manpower so as to reduce manpower costs to preserve jobs.
c) NTUC advocates for the acceleration of the formation of Company Training Committees (CTC) and mid-career conversations to identify potential job displacements and take pre-emptive approach with companies to reskill at-risks workers. In doing so, we want to strengthen the Singaporean Core.
d) Create jobs by leveraging CTCs to create, redesign and reclaim jobs; helping businesses find new opportunities through reviewing their business strategies, policies and operations; and tapping on Government schemes to redesign jobs for workers.
e) Train workers for future business needs through the CTC and optimise training during lull business period; and tap on enhanced training grant to equip workers with new skills and be paid at the same time, while companies can receive funding.