The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), in consultation with the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), have this week issued a set of guidelines for the Job Flexibility Scheme in the services sector. The guidelines will ensure that employers are responsible and fair when implementing the scheme, which comes into effect next Monday, 1 July 2013.
Singapore company registration specialist Rikvin is optimistic that the guidelines sets the right framework in place to ensure that migrant workers are protected from abuse. Correspondingly, the guidelines give some leeway to affected businesses to enhance productivity in spite of tightened manpower regulations on Singapore work permit holders.
Earlier this year, Rikvin has reported that the Jobs Flexibility Scheme for Productivity for hotels will be extended to the entire services sector this July. This was done to help companies from the sector to cope with a series of graduated changes to foreign worker levies (FWL) as well as higher dependency ratio ceilings (DRCs) that will be effected in July.
The privity of the contract then holds employers accountable to conduct business reasonably and not abuse migrant workers. We applaud this move and think that it will shine a positive light on Singapore. We anticipate that this will enhance Singapore’s attractiveness as a business location for services-related companies.
Under this scheme, a work permit holder who is hired by a hotel to serve customers at the front desk may also be tapped for other tasks required by the hotel as well. This then benefits affected companies who say that they have been struggling to hire workers. For workers, this is an opportunity to develop new skills, enhance their portfolio and earn more.
The Tripartite Guidelines is made up of two parts. The Guiding Principles describe the manner by which employers and staff are to benefit from the policy. The Legal and contractual obligations, on the other hand, reiterate employment laws that both parties must comply with. These laws include the Workplace Safety and Health Act, the Employment Act and Employment of Foreign Manpower Act.
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As productivity enhancement is the crux of this scheme, employers must seek written consent and with sufficient notice from their staff on redefined job scopes. The contract should clearly define expectations as well as benefits. When the staff has agreed to the new tasks, the employer must ensure that the consenting staff are properly trained before taking on new tasks. In return, employers should share productivity gains with employees who take on additional tasks. Non-compliance with the Guiding Principles may result in the loss of Singapore work pass privileges.
Ms. Christine Lim, General Manager of Rikvin said, “Our concerns in February, when this announcement was made, was that it could be open to abuse by errant employers. With this framework in place, service sector employers will have to operate with respect to the rule of law, on pain of losing their work pass privileges. The privity of the contract then holds employers accountable to conduct business reasonably and not abuse migrant workers. We applaud this move and think that it will shine a positive light on Singapore. We anticipate that this will enhance Singapore’s attractiveness as a business location for services-related companies.”