NTUC urges formal framework for fair retrenchment

Singapore’s labour union is proposing set guidelines amid rising layoffs

NTUC urges formal framework for fair retrenchment

NTUC has proposed a Fair Retrenchment Framework to ‘further guide’ employers amid rising layoffs.

Singapore’s labour union said the framework would complement existing advisory and guidelines on carrying out responsible retrenchment exercises.

NTUC also urged employers to remain open, transparent and consult unions as well as workers affected by retrenchments.

READ MORE: MOM updates retrenchment guidelines amid COVID-19

Some of the proposed principles in the framework include:

- Safeguard Singaporean core
Firms should have 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.

Employers should also ensure the exercise preserves a diverse workforce. This takes into account keeping older employees who possess relevant skills and valuable experience for the job. Leaders should evaluate all employees on an equal basis.

Foreigners in the workforce may be considered if they have critical skills for the continuity of the business. Employers should also ensure that these skills are transferred to Singaporeans in the longer term, said the labour union.

“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,” wrote NTUC.

READ MORE: COVID-19: How to implement a 'fair' employee pay cut

- Preserve jobs
NTUC reminded that retrenchment must be a 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,” wrote NTUC.

Some measures to consider before executing layoffs:

a) Implementing company-wide pay cuts

b) Providing secondment opportunities for workers

c) Placing workers on shorter work-week, no-pay leave or furlough

d) Allowing workers to switch to part-time contracts

e) Considering job-share arrangements for workers

f) Tapping on government assistance schemes to mitigate manpower costs

READ MORE: Singapore govt urges 'responsible retrenchment'

- Provide job support
If retrenchments are inevitable, NTUC calls on companies to provide for fair retrenchment packages and processes. This is so that workers who have contributed to the companiesgrowth and performance “are treated fairly and with dignity, even as they are asked to leave the companies”.

Fong Tuan Chen, country HR & general affairs director at Samsung Electronics reminded that while it’s tough for every party involved, taking a responsible approach to mass cuts in times of crisis is crucial.

Dont treat people like a commodity – treat them with dignity,” he said. How else do you deliver news of a deathif not done respectfully and sympathetically?

The hallmark of a great organisation is not how much profit it makes, how big its revenue is, how much assets it has, or how great its products are – it is how it treats its people.”

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