Sacrifices needed by businesses, workers to endure short-term pain from latest Covid-19 measures: SNEF

Employers should manage their excess manpower and wage costs responsibly by referring to guidelines set last October. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - To keep businesses afloat and save jobs, sacrifices must be made by both employers and employees to endure the "short-term pain" from the latest Covid-19 measures, said the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

In a statement on Wednesday (May 19), the SNEF noted that the latest measures announced by the multi-ministry task force tackling the pandemic will negatively affect businesses, particularly those in sectors such as attractions and recreation, construction, food and beverage, hospitality, marine, process, and retail.

"While these employers understand the need for the measures, they face a decline in business even as fixed overheads remain. As business activities are scaled down, these employers may face excess manpower temporarily," said the SNEF.

It added that employers should manage their excess manpower and wage costs responsibly by referring to guidelines set last October by the National Wages Council (NWC).

The guidelines were further updated last Saturday (May 15), with the NWC urging businesses that are growing or recovering from the impact of Covid-19 to take steps to restore their workers' wages, reward them fairly through variable payments, and bring forward hiring plans.

However, employers who are still facing cost pressures and have exhausted various non-wage cost-saving measures can resort to temporary wage cuts if it means saving jobs, the NWC said last week.

Employers are also strongly encouraged to refer to the tripartite advisory on managing excess manpower, which lays out various cost-saving measures such as shorter work weeks, or clearing of annual leave or taking no-pay leave, said the SNEF.

"Employers are also reminded to notify the Ministry of Manpower if they intend to implement cost-saving measures that will affect employees' salaries," it added.

They should also discuss with their employees and/or unions and come to an agreement on the level of salary support given to staff who cannot work during this period, said the SNEF.

These employees can also be sent for training to gain new skills under the Enhanced Training Support Package, which provides significant wage support and subsidised course fees from the Government.

"By enduring short-term pain together, we can preserve our capabilities and capacity, and emerge stronger when our economy reopens safely again," the SNEF said.

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