Examine hiring trends of firms after each layoff exercise

It is great that the Government will be bringing forward a planned retrenchment survey to this year, in view of the expected economic slump ("Slowing economy prompts earlier MOM poll"; Wednesday).

Mr Patrick Tay, an MP for West Coast GRC, was indeed right when he said that there was a need to pay attention to cases of retrenchment disguised as voluntary resignations and "golden handshakes".

With relatively lower wages associated with foreign Employment Pass (EP) holders, retrenchment exercises risk presenting themselves as opportunities for companies to hire foreigners.

Thus, it is also important for the Ministry of Manpower to examine the hiring trends of companies after each round of retrenchment.

A spike in EP applications after a retrenchment exercise should be seen as a red flag.

For such cases, the basis for EP applications should be examined in greater detail before approval is granted.

Manpower policy and planning are frequently associated with loopholes that the authorities find difficult to detect and employers find easy to exploit.

However, I am confident that employers, employees, unions and the Government can work towards accomplishing the herculean task of formulating and implementing sound policies.

Woo Jia Qian (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2016, with the headline 'Examine hiring trends of firms after each layoff exercise'. Print Edition | Subscribe