More firms adopting policies to support NS

Some rotate jobs to cover staff off for training, others provide perks for those who pass IPPT

More businesses and organisations have adopted pro-national service (NS) policies and tweaked practices to support workers with NS commitments.

These include rotating jobs to cover those who go for their training, considering workers' outstanding In-Camp Training (ICT) performance at appraisals, and providing incentives for employees who pass their fitness tests.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has observed that more companies, organisations and even individuals are stepping forward in support of NS. It, however, did not reveal the numbers that have done so.


Mr Elson Koh at the ITE College West staff gym. He was among the individuals honoured for helping his colleague, who had difficulties passing his IPPT, to prepare for the fitness test. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

"Among businesses and organisations, we have observed more of them coming on board to offer a range of supportive human resource practices," said Mindef's National Service Affairs director Simon Lim. "These span from discouraging NSmen from deferring ICT to recognising NSmen's good performance during ICT."

City Developments Limited (CDL), for instance, grants NSmen a day of leave to rest and prepare for their Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) and rewards them with monetary incentives and other benefits when they pass or improve at the test.

Mr Kevin Kwok, 40, a senior manager at CDL, said his superiors would review projects with him prior to his ICT, to see if there is a need for extra resources or extended deadlines. "This allows me to focus on my NS responsibilities with peace of mind," he added.

Other schemes include giving a half-day off to NSmen at the end of their ICT to allow them to recuperate, and organising regular sports programmes to promote an active lifestyle among employees.

CDL, which has some 420 employees, of which 25 have NS commitments, was one of the 122 recipients of last year's Total Defence Awards. Started in 1986, the award is given to those who have gone the extra mile to support NS.

Small and medium-enterprises have also played their part.

Integrated platform solutions provider, Anewtech Systems, has a job rotation scheme, where colleagues can cover for each other.

Its managing director Terence Teo said: "With this, we are able to reduce project delay and those who have NS commitments are able to concentrate on their training."

The firm, which has 23 employees, also provides incentives such as a $200 reward when an employee passes the IPPT. Further, it takes into account the ICT performance during annual appraisals.

The Total Defence Awards scheme was revamped last year to recognise a wider pool of people. Beyond businesses, it pays tribute to organisations with pro-NS policies, as well as individuals who are supportive of NS.

Mr Elson Koh, section head of the mechatronics department at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West, was among the individuals honoured for helping his colleague, who had difficulties passing his IPPT, to prepare for the test. The 42-year-old had bumped into his colleague at the gym one day and learnt about his IPPT. Besides sharing about the different workouts to train specific muscle groups, Mr Koh would stay behind after office hours at least twice a week to render his support. His colleague later achieved an IPPT Silver award.

Colonel Lim said: "We hope that the recipients' commendable efforts will inspire more to come forward to play their part in supporting our national servicemen."

Nominations for the Total Defence Awards have started , and will open till Feb 29. To find out more, visit www.accord.gov.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'More firms adopting policies to support NS'. Print Edition | Subscribe