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MOM and Tripartite Partners Release Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower

1.   To help companies and workers cope with the impact of the sharp economic downturn, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) together with its tripartite partners, Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) have released a revised set of Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower (see Annex A).

2.   The Tripartite Guidelines strongly encourage companies to manage their excess manpower and consider retrenchment only as a last resort. To help save jobs, companies should first consider alternatives such as making use of the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR) to send workers for training, redeploying workers to alternative areas of work, implementing shorter work-week, temporary lay-off, flexible work schedule or other flexible work arrangements, and managing wage costs through the use of the flexible wage system.

3.   Mr Stephen Lee, President, SNEF said, "These Tripartite Guidelines provide companies with various measures to save jobs. I strongly urge companies to use these guidelines to map out various options to retain their employees as far as possible. Companies should work with their unions to customise the proposed measures to suit their specific circumstances and business conditions. Our tripartite efforts at wage restructuring have also put many companies in a position to reduce wage costs responsibly through the flexible components that have been built up in better times. We must all work together to help companies and workers to ride through this tough economic phase."

4.   Deputy Secretary-General, NTUC, Mr Heng Chee How said, "This economic crisis will test not only the survival instincts of companies and workers but also their core values. These Tripartite Guidelines will help companies manage excess manpower in strategic and flexible ways, while being fair and socially responsible to their workers. They also let workers and unions help companies conserve resources, stay afloat and fight on. I urge companies to use these guidelines in the right spirit to avoid, delay or minimise retrenchments and save many jobs. Together, we will tackle this downturn and strengthen competitiveness, trust and confidence."

5.   Mr Ong Yen Her, Divisional Director, Labour Relations and Workplaces (MOM) added, "The tripartite partners maintain that retrenchments should be considered only as a last resort, but note that in situations where retrenchment is inevitable, companies are encouraged to discuss with the unions if the company is unionised, to ensure that retrenchment could be carried out responsibly and smoothly. Companies should also notify MOM as soon as possible of any impending retrenchment. This would enable the Ministry and the relevant agencies to help affected workers find alternative employment expeditiously and/or to provide them with relevant training for enhanced employability."

6.   The tripartite partners will continue to monitor closely the employment situation and step up efforts to help companies and affected workers cope with the downturn.