Make retrenchment benefits compulsory: Lim Biow Chuan

April 6, 201610:15 am452 views

The payment of retrenchment benefits should be made compulsory, said Member of Parliament (MP) for Mountbatten Lim Biow Chuan in Parliament on Tuesday (Apr 5).

He said such benefits should apply to all staff, including professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) and management. Currently, retrenchment benefits are determined by agreements between employers and employees.

Mr Lim also suggested that the retrenchment benefit law should compel companies to pay a minimum sum of between three and six months of benefits, depending on the employee’s length of service.

He said this would allow retrenched staff to concentrate on learning new skills for their future jobs instead of having to worry about paying off the family’s monthly expenses.

“It would make the transition less worrisome if they are able to rely on some short-term retrenchment payment to tide them over for a few months whilst they find another job or undergo re-training,” he added.

The number of retrenchments has been rising amid an uncertain economic environment. According to preliminary estimates released by the Manpower Ministry on Jan 28, 4,200 workers were laid off in the fourth quarter of 2015, higher than the 3,460 layoffs in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, the National Trades Union Congress said a total of 2,512 workers from 45 unionised companies were displaced from their jobs in 2015, an 11.8 per cent increase from 2,246 workers in 2014.

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices has come forward to urge employers to deal with retrenchments “responsibly and sensitively”, including considering providing retrenchment benefits to compensate affected employees.

The issue also came up in Parliament on Monday, when several MPs called for more help for those caught in economic headwinds or structural changes that left them unemployed. Suggestions to support these workers ranged from redundancy insurance to laws that protect Singaporean workers against discrimination.

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