Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim asked the government to consider redundancy insurance for employees who face unexpected retrenchments in this uncertain economic climate. Several other Members of Parliament also made similar calls in Parliament in the past week.
Responding to such calls, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say said that he does sympathise and empathise with workers who are affected by retrenchment, but that there was no need for retrenchment benefits to be legislated in Singapore.
Mr Lim pointed to a survey by his Ministry which said that companies in Singapore pay retrenchment benefits as a “standard practice”, with 9 in 10 firms doing so.
The Minister said 9 in 10 employees from unioned (as well as non-unionised) companies also receive retrenchment benefits to justify not legislating such labour laws.
“Our unemployment rates are low, our long-term unemployment rates are also low. At the same time, the practice of paying retrenchment benefits is widespread,” the Minister argued.
The Minister preferred the tripartite partners (government, employers and employees) to have the “flexibility to negotiate” retrenchment benefits “rather than prescribing it in the law”.
“This is because different retrenching companies are in different circumstances. And therefore there should not be a one-size-fits-all rule,” he explained.
The Manpower Minister said that his Ministry’s efforts will be focused on getting retrenched workers to “go back to work as quickly as possible”.
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