Give PMETs more protection, says NTUC

The review of Employment Act has prompted several suggestions from Singapore’s labour movement

Give PMETs more protection, says NTUC
Employers may have to remove the salary cap on the income of professionals, managers and executives in a bid to protect them from unfair dismissals.

PMEs earning more than $4,500 a month are not covered by the Employment Act, which grants workers basic rights such as paid sick leave and redress for disputes with employers.

But the labour movement, through the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said PMEs made up a growing proportion of the workforce.

"While the intent of the cap is to strike a balance between the rights of employees and to allow companies to manage their labour obligations and costs, the changing profile of our workforce requires a regular review... to ensure that these policy tensions are adequately balanced," wrote NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay.

He said aggrieved PMEs had sought his help at NTUC’s U PME Centre, legal clinics, meet-the-people sessions and his social media platforms, The Straits Times reported.

Professionals, managers, executives and technicians had a median gross monthly salary of about $5,910 as of June 2016, Tay said.

The labour movement’s call follows an announcement by the Ministry of Manpower last week that was reviewing parts of the Employment Act.

Another change that labour proposes is raising the salary limits for Part IV of the Act, which provides additional protection to specific groups of workers: rank-and-file employees in white-collar jobs - clerks, receptionists and retail sales assistants – making up to $2,500 a month, and manual workers who earn up to $4,500 a month.

Tay said the limits should be raised to keep pace with rising median wages.

He also suggested considering whether the scope of this section of the Act should be extended to PMEs, "as the dichotomy between 'rank and file' and 'PME' workers becomes increasingly blurred".

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