Do YOU fear being retrenched? Then there are 3 things you need to know…

Are you a PME?

PME means Professionals, Managers and Executives.


If you are, then hang on tight. Because this year and the years to come might not be an easy ride for you and your peers.

Patrick Tay protect Singaporean job

According to NTUC Assistant Secretary General Patrick Tay in his 2nd blogpost, the recent weaker economic figures and market outlook should see more layoffs and retrenchments affecting more PMEs than before.

One reason is because the workforce is seeing an exponential increase in the number of PMEs but “also because the likely affected sectors, jobs and companies have a higher concentration of PMEs”.

Over the last 14 years, the Industrial Relations Act and the Employment Act have been amended to allow representation of PMEs by unions.

To better help you understand the help available to you should you be retrenched or fear that you would be retrenched, here’s 5 things you should know:

1. PMEs can seek recourse for a variety of statutory entitlements and protection

Regardless of whether your company is unionised or not, PMEs earning up to $4,500 can seek recourse for a variety of statutory entitlements and protection within the Employment Act.

What it means: As long as you earn below $4,500, you can seek the help of a union to represent you to seek recourse for any employment disputes. 

2. Employment Claims Tribunal for PMEs to settle issues

“…we are also expecting a slew of new and positive changes in legislation in the latter half of this year to better protect PMEs in Singapore.”

The Employment Claims Tribunal which comes in the later part of the year will hear both statutory and contractual employment claims.


PMEs who earn more than $4,500 a month and are not covered by the Employment Act will then be able to have a cost-effective and expeditious avenue to resolve their statutory and contractual salary-related disputes with their employers.

What it means: If you earn more than $4,500 and are not covered by the Employment Act then the Employment Claims Tribunal provides a way for you to resolve any statutory or contractual salary-disputes. 

3. Better protection for PMEs who are to be retrenched

To expand beyond the ambit and jurisdiction of normal ECT claims, the NTUC lobbied for a Tripartite Mediation Framework (TMF) which is only for unions members.

But Tay agreed that there are a few issues to address with tripartite partners in the current economic landscape:

  • NTUC wants better protection and benefits for retrenched PMEs

“Who to be retrenched? Who are entitled to retrenchment benefits? When should retrenchment exercises be carried out? What amount of retrenchment benefits should be paid to PMEs?”

What it means: If a company is thinking about laying off its staff, it should consider some questions and factors before coming to a decision on who to retrench and the amount to be paid out as retrenchment benefits.

  • NTUC recommends employers to give employees a reasonable Notice Period

“Another area is the appropriate period of notice to be given to the affected employees…for unionised companies, we have always instituted a month’s notice period…to the union so that the union can negotiate the retrenchment package as well as assist the affected workers in job matching and placements. “

What it means: Should a company decide to retrench its employees, it should give an appropriate notice of period to affected employees. For unionised companies, the union insitutes a month’s notice period to the union for it to negotiate retrenchment packages and assist workers to find jobs.

As of April 2015, all unions can collectively represent PMEs after the Industrial Relations Act was amended.

cbd ST07032012-1206757030 / Alphonsus Chern // Generic photograph of office and bank towers and glass-clad skyscrapers in the Singapore Central Business District. Photographed 07 March 2012. Can be used with stories about towers, skyscraper, office, bank, floor, tall, height, bay, water, freshwater, brackish, Marina, watersports, leisure, promenade, leisure, activity, worker, foreign, expatriate, rental, estate, zoning, tree, green, greenery, salary, development, First World, finance, forex, trading, services, MICE, expo, investment, corporation, construction

This was a marked change from before in the 1960s when the Act did not generously extend protection to PMEs.

“What we have today in a nutshell, is better protection for PMEs and greater prerogatives of PMEs in the workplace.”
– Patrick Tay

Image Credits: Straits Times, Todayonline, MyPaper.

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