Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say recently revealed that Ministry of Manpower (MOM) received 94 cases from employees with retrenchment-related issues last year.
15 appeals came from employees who have been dismissed but felt that they were retrenched and deprived of their retrenchment benefits.
But only one appeal is being resolved.
The other workers were either not entitled to retrenchment benefits as:
- they have less than 2 years of service or,
- there were no retrenchment benefits specified in their contracts or collective agreement
Looking at these figures, MOM concluded that there is “no clear evidence” of disguised retrenchments.
But how many disguised retrenchments go unreported?
These are some stories which have surfaced over the last week, but may not have been reported to MOM, hence depressing the actual numbers of disguised retrenchments.
In case you cannot view the above Facebook post, here it is:
Parent and son came to Meet-the-People Session over their employment issues.
Son encountered a dispute regarding his first job, a contract for service, which he had terminated, and we spent close to an hour brainstorming possible options. Even roped in a lawyer activist who was around to deliberate.
After son’s case, Parent requested for advice over being asked to resign, after serving decades (also first job), by supervisor due to medical issues. Brought along the newspaper article on disguised retrenchment. Company is unionised. Parent is Union member. Voila! Wrote down Union’s contact and gave a 101 on Industrial Relations. Parent relieved to be able to be represented by someone in the company.
Both first jobs. Different generations. Different challenges.
Glad to be able to tap on my own job expertise to help someone!
Besides the story above, there are cases of staff being asked to resign after 20 years from a job, after their old boss was replaced by a new one.
Read more stories here.
How can you be prepared for a disguised retrenchment?
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay told The New Paper how companies show these tell-tale signs of trying to get rid of employees to reduce costs.
- Workers are suddenly given poor performance ratings when they had previously received consistently good ratings.
- A company’s order books are empty.
He said ”
We want to know early so that we can help workers who are affected as best as we can. We want to help them with a seamless transition to another employer.
We can also negotiate the retrenchment payout which might not be prescribed in the collective agreement.
What can you do about disguised retrenchments?
Out of 15 appeals to MOM, only 1 appeal is eligible to be resolved.
If you work in a non-unionised company, there will be no protection for retrenchment benefits even after the new Employment Claims Tribunal and Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) framework starts on 1 April 2017.
Hence, unless you can convince your company to state retrenchment benefits in your contract, your best protection is to be unionised so that the union can negotiate on your behalf.