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DFS again increases severance payouts to retrenched staff

TRAVEL retailer DFS Group on Wednesday said it has further bumped up the severance packages to all the workers who were laid off during its recent retrenchment exercise in Singapore.

The payout to each affected staff is now one month’s salary for each year of service, capped at 25 years.

The new upper limit is almost quadruple that of the previous deal on Oct 2, when DFS offered two weeks’ salary for each year of service, capped at 13 years, or a maximum of 26 weeks’ pay.

That offer was already higher than the original amount announced during the layoffs in late September – a payout capped at 13 weeks’ salary.

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Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo had said on Sept 28 that DFS could have better handled the layoffs, particularly the way it communicated with the employees and how it offered the severance payouts.

The longtime tenant at Changi Airport is exiting all 18 duty-free liquor and tobacco stores at the airport in June 2020 after a four-decade tenure, before handing over the reins to the new operator, Lotte Duty Free.

A Changi Airport Group spokesman told The Business Times (BT) that while Lotte has full discretion to plan its manpower resources, the South Korean firm would conduct interviews to possibly hire DFS staff who have the relevant expertise and meet its requirements.

On Oct 2, DFS released a statement saying that it had in place a series of measures to support the laid off workers in their transition over the next few months, which may include one-on-one career coaching, job matching, retraining and reskilling, employability skills workshops and counselling services. The company said it was working with the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation (TRREF), Workforce Singapore and external outplacement agencies for these measures.

DFS noted on Wednesday that it will continue to work closely with those partners to provide support to the affected staff.

Since early October, the company has had several “positive” meetings with the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers’ Union (SMMWU), and will hold further dialogues with the union and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to “promote good industrial relations”, it said on Wednesday.

DFS added that it remains committed to carrying out the retrenchment exercise in a “fair and sensitive manner”.

“We sincerely thank all affected staff for their past service to DFS,” the company said.

DFS continues to employ almost 1,000 staff in Singapore.