In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become an inevitable reality that the global economy and the Singapore economy are facing unprecedented severe challenges. Various sectors, including air transport, tourism and hospitality, food and beverage, and retail have been hit hard by the sharp decline in consumers, and other sectors such as manufacturing and wholesale trade have also been seriously affected by the decline in the global economy. As a direct consequence, the issue of excess manpower has become a foremost concern of many employers.
The Singapore Government, the National Wages Council (NWC), and the tripartite partners – namely the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation (the Tripartite Partners) – have encouraged employers to make preserving jobs and keeping workers in employment a top priority in the present circumstances, with retrenchment exercises being undertaken only as a last resort. To this end, the Tripartite Partners, NWC and the MOM have issued advisories and guidelines on measures that employers can undertake in the management of excess manpower. This article discusses some of the measures that employers can consider undertaking, and, in the event retrenchment becomes an inevitable option, how a retrenchment exercise should be responsibly managed by the employer.
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