NTUC’s proposed Fair Retrenchment Framework to be incorporated into tripartite advisory

The Fair Retrenchment Framework was announced by the National Trades Union Congress last month amid a wave of layoffs in Singapore.
The Fair Retrenchment Framework was announced by the National Trades Union Congress last month amid a wave of layoffs in Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Guiding principles proposed by the NTUC on conducting retrenchments fairly will be incorporated into the tripartite advisory on managing excess manpower and responsible retrenchment.

This means employers and the Government have agreed to include at least some elements of the labour movement's Fair Retrenchment Framework in the advisory, as layoffs rise amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who announced the update to the advisory on Monday (Aug 17), said retrenchments will be inevitable even with the Government's best efforts.

"As our labour movement puts it, we cannot protect every job, but we will protect every worker," he said in a ministerial statement on further Covid-19 support measures.

"For those of you who have fallen on hard times, we will continue to support you and walk this journey with you."

The Fair Retrenchment Framework was announced by the National Trades Union Congress last month amid a wave of layoffs here.

Integrated resorts operator Resorts World Sentosa had laid off an estimated 2,000 workers, while aircraft maintenance firm Eagle Services Asia laid off more than 140 workers last month. This month, aircraft engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney laid off around 400 staff, and British jet engine-maker Rolls-Royce will start cutting about 240 jobs here.

Among other things, the framework says firms should protect the Singaporean core of the workforce, while foreigners with special or critical skills can be retained as well.

It also says companies should act early and explore cost-cutting measures such as wage cuts and secondments before considering retrenchments, and where layoffs are inevitable, they should provide fair retrenchment packages and processes.

 
 
 

The tripartite advisory on managing excess manpower and responsible retrenchment was last updated in March. It highlights other options besides retrenchment, such as sending staff for training or "time banking" unused working hours to be repaid when business picks up.

It also states the minimum notice period required by law - ranging from one day for someone with less than 26 weeks of service to four weeks for at least five years of service - as well as the prevailing norms for retrenchment benefits, which are between two weeks and one month of salary per year of service.