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Oral Answer to PQ on Post-retrenchment challenges


MP: Mr Yip Hon Weng

To ask the Minister for Manpower in light of public concerns about increased retrenchments in 2023 (a) whether he can elaborate on the Government’s approach to address anxieties over job security, economic stability and impact on families, especially considering high living costs and global challenges; and (b) what measures are in place to address ongoing re-employment challenges faced by retrenched senior workers over age discrimination and job disruption from rapid technological advancement.


The increase in retrenchments in 2023, including several high-profile retrenchment exercises, has understandably sparked concerns. Business reorganisation and restructuring are an inevitable part of a healthy, competitive economy. Even so, being retrenched can be a shock and cause disruption to the lives of affected workers. I empathise with these anxieties. How can we help affected workers? Firstly, the onus is on employers to be fair and responsible when conducting retrenchment. In my earlier replies to Parliamentary questions filed in February this year, I had set out our tripartite approach to ensuring that retrenchment is carried out responsibly. We educate employers on being responsible via the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (TAMEM), with non-compliant employers referred to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP). I will not repeat the same points here.

2. Secondly, we must ensure that those who are retrenched are able to get back on their feet. We do this by equipping workers with industry-relevant skills through the education system and SkillsFuture, and by keeping the labour market tight through complementary foreign workforce policies. By and large, most retrenched workers are able to bounce back quickly. Our data shows that about two-thirds of retrenched workers re-enter into employment within six months. The resident long-term unemployment rate remains low at 0.7%.

3. However, some retrenched workers do face greater difficulties finding a new job. We lean forward to assist them. When a company reports a retrenchment exercise, the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation goes in and offers support to affected workers. The Taskforce is led by Workforce Singapore, and includes representatives from the MOM, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG). The Taskforce will work with the company to offer employment facilitation services and information kits on career resources. Retrenched workers can make use of Workforce Singapore’s programmes such as the Career Conversion Programmes and the Mid-Career Pathways Programme to explore job switches and reskill for new opportunities. At MOM’s Committee of Supply, I will share how we are enhancing our programmes to support jobseekers.

4. Finally, I recognise that retrenchment can cause a shock to the household finances, which make it difficult for the jobseeker to focus on finding a suitable new job. We will be introducing a support scheme to empower involuntarily unemployed jobseekers to bounce back into employment. We are close to finalising the scheme parameters, and more information will be announced later this year.

5. The Member also asked about how we are supporting senior workers to get re-employed. My earlier points on equipping workers with industry-relevant skills, keeping the labour market tight, and providing employment facilitation support apply equally to senior workers. Many of SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore’s programmes provide a higher level of support for mature workers aged 40 and above. In addition, the Government supports the hiring of seniors through the Senior Employment Credit. The upcoming Workplace Fairness Legislation will provide additional protections against age discrimination at the workplace.