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Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment

  1. The Singapore economy is highly exposed to global trends and companies often find that they have to restructure to stay competitive. As businesses adjust, they should consider alternative ways of managing their excess manpower such as upskilling employees and redesigning jobs. However, if retrenchment is inevitable, companies should do so in a responsible manner.
  2. As part of the overall efforts to strengthen our support for affected companies and workers, the tripartite partners - the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), have revised the Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (Annex). The guidelines emphasises the need for companies to maintain a strong Singaporean Core and avenues to help workers who have been displaced.
  3. “As companies restructure in their efforts to raise productivity as well as amidst slower growth, organisational rightsizing will be necessary and some redundancies may be unavoidable. SNEF would like to encourage employers to retain their manpower through appropriate adjustments in their work schedules in the face of lower demand over the short-term and to use their lull periods to upskill their workers. If retrenching is inevitable, employers should do so responsibly and render the necessary assistance to their workers. As local workforce growth is expected to grow by only 1.0% per annum until 2020, we urge employers to take a longer term view of their manpower needs and make efforts towards strengthening their competencies and maintaining a strong Singaporean core. These will enable their companies to seize growth opportunities quickly once their business rebounds," said Mr Koh Juan Kiat, SNEF's Executive Director.
  4. NTUC Assistant Secretary-General, Ms Cham Hui Fong added, “We believe the revised tripartite guidelines will help companies better manage their excess manpower in a more effective manner during difficult times. Companies should send their workers for skills upgrading so that workers remain relevant and adaptable. While retrenchment may sometimes be inevitable, companies should conduct the retrenchment exercise in a fair and sensitive manner. Unionised companies should inform their unions earlier on any impending retrenchment and work with unions closely to ensure that fair retrenchment packages are offered and displaced workers are assisted with proper outplacement services.”
  5. Mr Alvin Lim, Divisional Director of Workplace Policy & Strategy at the Manpower Ministry, called on employers to notify MOM and/or the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) of their impending retrenchment exercises early. Mr Lim said, “Early notification to MOM/TAFEP will allow the tripartite partners and the relevant agencies such as WDA and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to work with companies and help their affected Singaporean employees find alternative employment. We also encourage workers to tap on Government assistance schemes, such as the Adapt and Grow initiative1.”
  6. MOM will also investigate complaints of discriminatory employment practices, including retrenchments that unfairly target Singaporeans, or which result in Singaporeans being replaced with foreigners. If the complaints are substantiated, companies may have their work pass privileges curtailed.


  1. Government assistance schemes include the Adapt and Grow initiative which is focused on assisting both Professional, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) and Rank and File workers to adapt to changing job demands, upgrade, reskill and progress in their careers. More information can be found here