Employers reminded of duty to be fair, responsible on retrenchments

Singapore organisations told to consult advisory on retrenchments ahead of layoffs

Employers reminded of duty to be fair, responsible on retrenchments

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng has reminded employers across Singapore that it is their obligation to be fair when carrying out retrenchments in the workforce.

Tan made the remarks as he was answering a question about how the government addresses anxieties in the workforce amid higher level of retrenchments in the past year.

"Firstly, the onus is on employers to be fair and responsible when conducting retrenchment," Tan said in a statement.

"We educate employers on being responsible via the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (TAMEM), with non-compliant employers referred to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).

TAMEM is an advisory formulated by the tripartite partners to provide clear guidance for employers when carrying out cost-cutting measures.

"TAMEM also guides unionised companies to notify their unions early about an upcoming retrenchment exercise," Tan previously said in February. "Where it is provided for in the collective agreement, the norm is one month before notifying the employees."

According to Tan, employers who will not follow the TAMEM will get a visit from the TAFEP to ensure adherence to the advisory.

The remarks came as retrenchments doubled in Singapore in 2023, mainly due to business reorganisation or restructuring.

Supporting retrenched employees

Meanwhile, Tan said the government is also assisting retrenched employees to get them back on their feet.

"We do this by equipping workers with industry-relevant skills through the education system and SkillsFuture, and by keeping the labour market tight through complementary foreign workforce policies," Tan said.

Majority of retrenched employees in Singapore are able to find a new job within six months after losing their jobs, according to previous data from the Ministry of Manpower.

But those who face more difficulties after getting retrenched get further assistance from the government, said Tan.

"When a company reports a retrenchment exercise, the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation goes in and offers support to affected workers," the minister stated.

"The Taskforce will work with the company to offer employment facilitation services and information kits on career resources."

Retrenched employees can make use of Workforce Singapore's programmes to explore job switches and reskill for new opportunities, the minister added.

The government also said a support scheme for involuntarily unemployed staff will be introduced to help them return to employment.

"We are close to finalising the scheme parameters, and more information will be announced later this year," MOM said.

Fighting age discrimination

For older employees who are retrenched, the ministry assured that they are also extended the same level of support as younger employees.

"Many of SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore’s programmes provide a higher level of support for mature workers aged 40 and above," Tan said.

"The upcoming Workplace Fairness Legislation will provide additional protections against age discrimination at the workplace."

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