The NS Mark accreditation scheme, which recognises firms that support national servicemen, was launched last night at the annual Total Defence Awards dinner.
Its aim is to create "a very strong, friendly, pro-NS culture", said Colonel (NS) Simon Lim, director of NS Affairs at the Ministry of Defence.
Explained Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at the launch: "When you support your NSmen in your company... you directly contribute to Singapore's security."
The scheme, which has two tiers, was recommended in 2013 by the Committee to Strengthen National Service, and developed by the Advisory Council for Community Relations in Defence.
For the basic NS Mark tier, firms simply have to sign a Declaration of Support for NS and Total Defence, which they can do online at www.NSmark.sg.
Applications opened last night.
For the higher NS Mark (Gold) tier, firms must have NS-friendly policies. These include rewarding good in-camp training (ICT) performance and considering an NSman's Certificate of Service and Testimonial when hiring staff.
NS Mark (Gold) firms will be given priority in career fairs held by Mindef and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). "If you are a young man looking for a job, you see a company with the NS Mark... You know they will support you," said Mr Rupert Gwee, director of NS Affairs.
Sakae Holdings marketing executive Calvin Lee, 25, said he did consider how his employer would treat his NS obligations when he applied for a job. But Sakae's pro-NS culture is reassuring, said Mr Lee, who joined the company last year and is due for ICT this October. This is his first job.
Sakae staff get one day of leave to take their IPPT, and receive cash vouchers of $50 if they pass, $80 if they reach the silver standard and $100 for gold. When they go for ICT, the work is spread out.
Said Sakae founder and chairman Douglas Foo: "For sure, ICT will interrupt the work process. But if everyone jumps in to help out, the work is divided among maybe a department of eight people."
During SAF Month in July, NSmen also enjoy discounts and promotions at all Sakae outlets. Last year, the firm received the NS Advocate Award - which lasts for three years - for its pro-NS efforts.
This year, 126 awards were given to 52 small and medium-sized enterprises, 34 large companies, 28 organisations and 12 individuals.