New tripartite standard for term contract workers launched to better their employment conditions

Workers pass a UOB bank branch in Singapore's central business district.
Workers pass a UOB bank branch in Singapore's central business district.ST PHOTO: FILE

SINGAPORE - A new tripartite standard which specifies better employment conditions for term contract employees was launched on Monday (July 31).

To date, 296 companies have signed on to this new standard, which identifies and recognises progressive employers committed to practices that go beyond what is required under the Employment Act in the key areas of leave benefits, notice period and training.

Among the early adopters are DBS Bank, OCBC, The American Club, Resorts World At Sentosa, law firm of Rajah & Tann and some employers in the government service. In total, they account for about 26,000, or around 15 per cent of all term contract employees in Singapore.

About 10 per cent of resident employees, or about 170,000 workers, are on term contract arrangements. These term contract employees may have their leave entitlements reset to the statutory minimum by the employer each time their contracts are renewed.

Bu employers who adopt the tripartite standard will provide term contract employees with leave benefits and termination notice periods that are commensurate with their cumulative length of service. They will also provide training to these employees as they do with permanent staff to ensure that they are able to perform their roles effectively.

Said Second Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo, "This is a good start but not good enough if we want to make an impact. We will continue to drive the adoption of this tripartite standard to cover as many term contract employees as possible."

The tripartite standard was jointly developed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

It is the first in a series of five tripartite standards that will be rolled out successively in the months ahead.

Under the standard for term contract workers, employers are encouraged to treat contracts of 14 days or more, and renewed within one month of the previous contract, as continuous, and grant or accrue leave benefits based on the cumulative term of the contracts.

Employers can prorate annual leave, sick leave and child-care leave benefits based on the length of the term contract.

For instance, an employee working for the same firm on three consecutive month-long contracts is entitled in his fourth month to benefits like two days of paid annual leave, based on seven days of paid annual leave a year.

When it comes to serving notice for early termination or for non-renewal of contract, employers commit to treating short-term contract workers fairly. This means recognising their cumulative length of service in deciding when to serve notice. The longer the cumulative length of service, the longer the notice period. Thus term contract employees have the assurance that like regular employees, they get reasonable notice to find a new job, or notice pay.

About 10 per cent of resident employees, or about 170,000 workers, are on term contract arrangements. These term contract employees may have their leave entitlements reset to the statutory minimum by the employer each time their contracts are renewed.

Mrs Teo, speaking at the launch of the standards on Monday, said the tripartite partners believed they are the right way to signal progressive employment practices to job seekers. Employers who sign on to the Standards will be publicly recognised on the website of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) and in a later phase - the Jobs Bank.

These employers may use the "Tripartite Standards" logo in their recruitment and marketing efforts to draw more talents.