Skip to main content

Employers Should Handle Layoffs Ethically

Ministry of Manpower (18 July 2007): Employers Should Handle Layoffs Ethically


TODAY (11 July 2007): Any Guidelines on VSS Scheme?


Employers Should Handle Layoffs Ethically 
- TODAY, 18 July 2007

Please refer to the letter “Any guidelines on VSS scheme” by Mr Liew Meng Fatt (TODAY, 11 July 07).
2.   Employers sometimes offer voluntary separation schemes due to restructuring or if positions become redundant. The administration of such schemes should be handled responsibly by employers, with the details of the proposed scheme being explained to employees so that they can make an informed choice about whether to opt for the scheme.

3.   In relation to pregnant employees, the law provides that a pregnant employee who is dismissed without just cause within 3 months from the date of delivery cannot be denied her maternity leave benefits. If a female employee covered by the Employment Act is dismissed in the early stages of pregnancy without just cause, she can appeal to the Minister for Manpower for reinstatement to her previous employment. Alternatively, she can seek a legal remedy in the civil courts.

4.   In this particular case, MOM is unable to proceed further as the persons who have knowledge of this case are unwilling to name the company, because they were not personally affected by the scheme. Anyone with information about this or other similar cases is advised to contact MOM at 64385122 or email so that appropriate follow-up action can be taken.


Any Guidelines on VSS Scheme?
- TODAY, 11 July 2007

A company recently implemented a voluntary separation scheme (VSS). Nearly 40% of the staff who applied for the scheme had their applications granted.

According to the company, the affected positions would not be refilled. But this was not the case. The company, in fact, advertised for the affected positions and filled them up gradually.

The company later admitted it had over-reduced its staff numbers with the VSS.

I would like to know if what the company did was ethical.

One affected staff member, a pregnant woman, had not applied for this scheme but was yet offered the package and asked to leave the company.

May I know if there are any guidelines given by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) with regard to the VSS?

If so, what are the consequences for a company that fails to conform to them?

Can the pregnant woman file a complaint against the firm of unfair dismissal despite having been compensated?

In addition, some staff members felt an injustice was done to them as the affected positions were backfilled immediately.

Most of them felt demoralised as the company had not act according to its purported initial plan of cost-cutting and restructuring.

I would like to hear the MOM's comments.