New tripartite standard on handling unhappiness in the workplace

So far, over 220 employers, employing about 245,000 workers, have adopted the standard on grievance handling.
So far, over 220 employers, employing about 245,000 workers, have adopted the standard on grievance handling.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - A new scheme was launched on Friday (Oct 20) to guide employers in handling unhappiness in the workplace.The new Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling specifies a set of verifiable practices that employers can act on when managing workplace grievances.

Among its recommendations are for companies to set up proper channels for employees to raise grievances and for bosses to investigate and respond.

They should also specify who will hear appeals and set a time frame for action to be taken.

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

These standards are not compulsory, and firms will have to sign up voluntarily to adopt them.

Those that do so will have their names listed on the website of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, and will also get to use the "Tripartite Standards" logo in their job advertisements and marketing material.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said as he launched the standard: "We can make our workplaces even more progressive and harmonious, our workforce more engaged and productive, and businesses more innovative and competitive."

The tripartite standard on grievance handling is the third standard to be launched so far. The first two covered employment conditions for term-contract employees and flexible-work arrangements.

Other standards are being developed and they cover areas such as recruitment practices, procurement of services, retrenchment processes and age-friendly practices, Mr Lim told close to 400 company officials at the 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 350 full-time employees affected by the hotel's 18-month long restoration.

The hotel will be closing in December this year for the final phase of works and the workers 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, together with a senior member of the hotel's talent and culture team which worked with the union.

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

Mr Lim said: "This has helped preserve workplace harmony, trust and loyalty built up between the employee and employer, and between the management and the unions, over many years."