Firms with at least 10 staff have to notify MOM of any retrenchment

Penalties of up to $2,000 can be imposed on employers that do not comply with this regulation. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Firms with at least 10 employees will have to notify the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) each time they retrench any staff, according to new requirements out on Tuesday (Sept 7).

The mandatory retrenchment notification has to be filed by employers within five working days after they provide the notice of retrenchment to the affected worker.

This requirement will kick in on Nov 1.

Currently, these employers need to notify MOM only when they retrench five or more employees within a six-month period.

MOM said: "The revised notification enables the tripartite partners, Workforce Singapore, the Employment and Employability Institute, as well as other agencies to better reach out to affected local employees to provide employment and job search support."

Such support includes workshops, career coaching, networking and job fairs, and job matching and referrals.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Manpower, said: "One particular group of job seekers that we are especially concerned about are people who have been retrenched, because this is not just a matter of having a financial burden imposed on them, but they go through a lot of stress.

"So part of the way to help them better, is not just to get better data, but to go upstream to be notified earlier of when they may be at risk of retrenchment, so that we can execute the measures that can help them to either look for a new job, to provide career guidance and coaching as well."

Dr Koh was visiting Workforce Singapore's Careers Connect office at Our Tampines Hub to observe the job facilitation efforts there.

He added: "So by streamlining this and mandating the notification from the first employee to be retrenched... hopefully we can intervene earlier to help each and every single employee who may be facing retrenchment.

"It also has an advantage for the employers, because now they have less burden in terms of tracking who is the fifth employee over the six-month period, when they have to start providing the mandatory notification."

Singapore's labour market in the second quarter of this year took a hit from the tightened rules to curb the spread of Covid-19, during phase two (heightened alert).

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon at Workforce Singapore's Careers Connect office at Our Tampines Hub. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Advance estimates by MOM show that retrenchments rose slightly to 2,500 in the April to June period, from 2,270 in the previous quarter.

MOM attributed the uptick in retrenchments mainly to a small increase in layoffs in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

Companies can notify MOM of retrenchments via its website by submitting information including the size of the workforce before retrenchment and the details of the affected worker, such as job title. The process takes about 10 minutes to be completed.

Penalties of up to $2,000 can be imposed on employers who do not comply with this regulation, which was introduced in 2017.

MOM added: "Employers should also ensure that they manage any retrenchment exercises responsibly and fairly."

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