SINGAPORE - Seven in 10 retrenched workers who were helped by a dedicated taskforce last year were able to find jobs within six months.
A total of 9,120 Singaporeans were retrenched from 1,247 companies last year, said the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation, which shared its latest figures on Wednesday (Sept 19).
About a quarter of them agreed to get employment assistance, which includes job matching, after they were contacted by the taskforce.
The rest said that they would like to find employment on their own or take a break from work.
The taskforce also found that 90 per cent of the companies who cut workers paid retrenchment benefits to eligible local employees last year, which was similar to previous years. Those who were eligible had at least two years of service in the company.
"The proportion of establishments that paid retrenchment benefits by years of service has risen, with better economic conditions," the taskforce said in its statement.
Companies who did not pay retrenchment benefits cited financial constraints as among their key reasons.
Last year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) received 74 cases of retrenchment-related disputes from employees.
A majority of the cases involved appeals over the quantum of retrenchment benefits, while some involved alleged discriminatory retrenchment practices.
All of the cases were resolved through mediation, adjudication or engagements with employers, the taskforce said.
Workforce Singapore (WSG) chief executive and taskforce chairman Tan Choon Shian said that the taskforce was able to get more timely and complete information to help Singaporeans find new jobs, after the mandatory retrenchment notifications took effect from Jan 1 last year.
Companies with at least 10 employees are required to notify MOM if five or more of their employees are retrenched within any six-month period.
Mr Tan said that many job-seekers and hiring companies tapped WSG's Adapt and Grow programmes and services to facilitate the job matches.
"It was important that such individuals and employers kept open mindsets and were prepared to accept potential recruits or hiring opportunities that may not have seemed like obvious fits in the first instance," he added.
The taskforce will continue to educate companies on responsible retrenchment practices, and improve its outreach and assistance to retrenched Singaporeans, he said.
The taskforce was formed by the Government in March 2016 to help Singaporeans get back to work. It comprises representatives from MOM, WSG, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).
Commenting on the work of the taskforce, NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he was glad to see closer coordination with employers to ensure that affected workers receive the necessary retrenchment package and assistance for employment.
“While the market is recovering, there are still uncertainties, disruptions and restructuring which may result in pockets of layoffs across various sectors,” he said.
More can be done to encourage and support employers to train and upskill their workers pre-emptively, and retrench only as a last resort, he added.
“And if they do retrench, to do it fairly, responsibly and progressively,” he said.
He urged employers and workers to embrace future changes and disruptions with the right attitude and right mindset, and to see the period as an opportunity to reinvent themselves to be relevant.
Mr Tay said in his post that the labour movement will continue to work closely with its tripartite partners to take care of workers’ welfare, wages and work prospects.
Among those who benefitted from the taskforce’s programmes is Madam Foo Meng Tit, 58, who was a confidential officer at the Singapore Turf Club (STC) for 38 years before she was retrenched in July last year.
She picked up job search skills from an e2i employability camp that month, which helped her to land a job as an administrative officer at the National Heritage Board in November.
She left the role after six months to take a break and explore doing something different.
“The career coaching gave us guidelines on how to write application letters and present our resumes. After working (at the same job) for many years, it was like I was in a shell and not sure what the job application process required,” said Madam Foo, who is currently undergoing customer service-related courses with e2i while looking for a new job.