How would labour MP ensure employees are responsibly laid off when all they have are guidelines?

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By: Frank Doe

Over the weekend, there is this overly verbose piece in the media where the U PME Centre expressed concerns on the worrying trend of layoffs masquerading in all forms of normal labour attrition by giving the contracted notice of termination without clear explanations in order to avoid the usual practice of paying severance compensation, whatever the quantum.

U PME Centre is NTUC’s branch of the labour movement formed to represent PMEs earning up to $4,500 a month and are not covered by Employment Act. This is the most vulnerable workforce with limited recourse in circumstances of unfair-dismissal.

Firing a local PME is easy, a month’s notice or pay in lieu depending on the terms of employment and this can be based on arguable reasons of below-par performance or non-performance.

PAP Labour MP, Mr Patrick Tay, heading U PME reiterated that employers should be responsible when laying off staff and “be fair, responsible, follow the Tripartite Guidelines and do it in a responsible manner.”

The Tripartite Guidelines on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment offer guidance on responsible retrenchment practices, such as retrenchment benefits. But essentially it is just a guideline with no provisions for enforcement.

Appealing to the good senses of the employers don’t mean squat and Mr. Patrick Tay’s comments were at best superficial and at worst disingenuously theatrical.