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Singapore to Conduct First Major Review of Employment Act since 2008


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by Ernie B. Calucag

 

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is set to conduct a review of the Employment Act this year to ensure that the legislation keeps up with the times and changes in employment practices.

This was revealed by Minister of State for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin Tuesday during the MOM’s annual Workplan Seminar.

The last major review of the Employment Act was done in 2008.

Mr Tan said that Singapore’s workforce is now becoming more educated and non-traditional work arrangements like out-sourcing and short term contracts have emerged.

Professionals, managers and executives now constitute 32 per cent of Singapore workforce, up from 27 per cent in 2001.

The government will also examine how the law can be changed to better protect low-wage workers, in areas where the relationship is unbalanced in favour of employers.

“As we are looking at improving the wage conditions for our low-wage workers, we should also look at how the Employment Act can better look after workers where the relationship with employers is less than balanced,” Mr Tan said.

In this review, the MOM will work closely with its tripartite partners and other stakeholders to ensure that any amendment to be made would take into account the interest of both workers and employers.
The public’s feedback will also be sought, with the ministry holding a public consultation exercise in the second half of this year.
Mr Tan also commented on the ongoing discussions on the need for a wage review to close the income gap in Singapore.

“What seems clear to me, is that in spite of the economic difficulties of the last decade, our economic approach, while not perfect, has not been too bad,” he said.

“We have provided good employment for Singaporeans for many years. Good economic growth has enabled us, as a country, to provide more for our people and country at large, especially for the lower income groups,” Mr Tan added.

Mr Tan cautioned that the issue is one which should be treaded carefully as economic restructuring cannot be achieved by raising wages alone.

Economic restructuring requires a range of reforms and initiatives to boost productivity, increase the quality of the workforce and move up the value chain in the goods and services that Singapore produces, he said.