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Singapore Business Federation urges companies to consider retrenchment only as a last resort

THE Singapore Business Federation (SBF) has urged employers to protect the Singaporean core and retain talent to grow business opportunities, while leaving retrenchment as a last resort to manage manpower costs.

"We encourage companies to take a longer-term view of their manpower needs so as to retain and upgrade important capabilities, and to transform their businesses for the eventual recovery," Lim Ming Yan, chairman of SBF, said in statement on Friday, following the release of an advisory on responsible retrenchment practices.

SBF's advisory comes amid expectations of more layoffs in the coming months due to economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Companies should view retrenchments as a last resort, only after having exhausted all other cost-saving options," Mr Lim said.

Instead, companies should consider alternatives such as upskilling employees, redeployment, implementing flexible work schedules or wage adjustments led by management, SBF said, noting that they can seek help to do so through various assistance schemes offered by the government, unions and trade associations.

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If retrenchment is inevitable, SBF said, the selection of employees should be conducted in a fair and transparent manner based on objective and non-discriminatory criteria that protects the Singaporean core.

It should also give due consideration to employees, both local and foreign, based on the key skills and experiences needed to enable the company to emerge stronger and create new job opportunities for Singaporeans, the federation said.

Companies considering retrenchment should work closely with government agencies and unions to find ways of preserving as many jobs as possible, and to provide assistance to affected employees, SBF said, adding that they must inform the Ministry of Manpower in advance.

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