New scheme guides firms in handling staff grievances

Employers can choose to adopt specified set of good practices

A new scheme has been launched to guide employers in handling unhappiness in the workplace before it escalates into disputes.

The Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling specifies a set of good practices that employers can publicly commit to. The standards are not compulsory, and firms can adopt them voluntarily.

Among the recommendations are for companies to set up proper channels for staff to raise grievances and for bosses to investigate, and to specify who will hear appeals and set a time frame for action to be taken.

Supervisors must also be trained to manage employee feedback and unhappiness, and to work with the union if the company is unionised.

Companies that adopt the standards will be listed on the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices website, and will get to use the "Tripartite Standards" logo in their job advertisements and marketing material.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, who launched the standard, said that he hoped more grievances could be resolved amicably within companies before they become serious disputes which require mediation.

  • 220

  • Number of employers who have adopted the Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling.

The tripartite standard on grievance handling is the third standard to be launched so far as part of efforts to encourage firms to adopt progressive employment practices and signal this to jobseekers.

The first two standards covered employment conditions for term-contract employees and flexible work arrangements.

Other standards being developed cover areas such as recruitment practices, procurement of services, retrenchment processes and age-friendly practices, Mr Lim told close to 400 company officials at an event held at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability in Jurong East.

So far, over 220 employers, employing about 245,000 workers, have adopted the standard on grievance handling.

One of them is Raffles Hotel, which recently had to handle the concerns of some 350 full-time employees affected by the hotel's 18-month-long restoration project.

The hotel will be closing in December this year for the final phase of works and the staff were worried about their jobs.

Highlighting the hotel's efforts in assuaging their concerns, Mr Lim noted that it had engaged staff in one-to-one discussions with senior management and also worked with the union.

All affected employees were either seconded to local sister hotels or given help to find new jobs.

Mr Lim said this had helped preserve "harmony, trust and loyalty" between the hotel, its workers and the union.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'New scheme guides firms in handling staff grievances'. Print Edition | Subscribe