Singapore is therefore able to set, enforced and moderate the workplace rules and rights & obligations via four main mechanisms: Collective Agreements, Common Law, Tripartism and Labor-related Legislations. (Lim, et al. 2012) However, Labor-related Legislations will be the main focus in this assessment as it is one of the main principles behind the Singaporeâ€™s labor relations systems. Under the Legislations, there are more than two handfuls that are created to safeguard the employees in different areas. Out of all, Employment Act will be the main discussion in the assessment.
The Employment Act is designed to protect the rights of most of the employees in Singapore except domestic workers, Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) (Ministry of Manpower 2013). The Act is divided into several parts so as to deal with different workplace issues effectively and efficiently. Among all of the Parts that Employment Act has, only a few will be elaborated.
Under this Part of the Act, the employer is only allowed to terminate the employee once the terms has been fulfilled or expired. But, the employer is also able to terminate the employee with or without Notice depending on the situation. One of which is termination with Notice, it has to be written from one party to another and the Notice period varies with the year(s) of employment. For example, if the employee is hired for less than 2 years, the Notice period will be between 1 day and 1 week. Then again, if the employee is hired for more than 2 years, the Notice period will be between 2 weeks and 4 weeks. The other is dismissing the employee on the spot which is known as termination without Notice. However, it is only allowed if the employer pays the amount of salary that the employee would have earned during the Notice period or the employees is absence from work for more than 2 working days without informing the employer. Therefore, it is important for the employee to know their rights and responsibilities by reading and understanding the contract carefully. By doing so, the employee is able to stand up for their rights if they are wrongfully dismissed.
This Part of the Act covers all of the employees except domestic workers, Managers and Executives. The entitled employees will be covered by a set of minimum employment conditions such as maximum working hours and annual leaves. The maximum working hours for the entitled employee is either 48 hours per week or an average of 44 hours in any continuous two week period. Whereas for the allocation of annual leave is given according to the year(s) of employment. During the first year of employment, the employee is entitled to a total of 7 days. An additional annual leave will be entitled with an additional year of employment until the total annual leave is 14 days per year. However, in order to be eligible for annual leave, the individual has to be covered by Part IV of the Act and has been employed for at least 3 months.
This Part of the Act covers all of the female employees regardless of nationality and marital status. Entitled mothers will receive a total of 12 weeks of Maternity Leave provided that they are employed for at least 3 months before the birth of the child. However, the employer will only pay the first 8 weeks of leave if the mother has less than 3 children including the new-born. Whereas for the last 4 weeks, it can be claimed flexibly within the 12-month period from the childâ€™s birth. So as to boost the low birth rates in Singapore, The Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA) increases the Maternity Leave to a total of 16 weeks for the mothers who fulfil the following: parents are lawfully married, the child is born as a Singapore Citizen and the mother has been employed for more than 3 months. So as to further protect the parents, the Government prohibit the employer to dismiss any parents who are on Maternity Leave. If the employer failed to comply with the Act, the employer will be facing with either fine or imprisonment or both.
In effect to the different Parts of the Employment Act, it is important for the Human Resource (HR) department to ensure that the organisation follows the Legislations framework while developing new approach to manage the employees. The employer has to promote Fair Treatment Practices in the workplace by creating policy and guidelines. The Anti-discrimination policy is one of the important policies as the Singapore Government has been encouraging more elderly, women and minority to enter the workforce. Thus, the HR has to further emphasize on the policy by using guidelines that is provided by The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) as a reference. The guidelines ensure the employer to recruit the employees based on knowledge, skills and ability to perform the job without discrimination. Also, the employer has to provide necessary training and reward the employees based on performance. This will encourage the employees to put in extra effort to improve the sales and the customersâ€™ satisfaction. With the Fair Treatment Practices in place, the employer has to integrate it together with the Employment Act to have a double effect. On one hand, it is able to attract; recruit and retain employee. Whereas on the other hand it ensures that they are following with the Legislations. For instance, the employer is not allowed to terminate any employees due to discrimination. Instead, the employer should provide training to unleash the full potential of the employees which will provides the employer with a wider range of knowledge and creativity. But it is also essential for the HR to educate the employees on the Legislations, policies and guidelines by conducting seminars in different languages. This will ensure the employees to know their rights and responsibilities and remove any forms of discrimination within the organisation. Subsequently, the HR is able to propose to the top management to carry out protected conversation with the employees. The main purpose is to carry out one-to-one conversation to discover the underlying issues within the organisation. Therefore, it is critical for the employer to promote equality in the organisation or else the organisation will be paying it with their productivity and reputation.
This case study discuss on how does the SMRT Management handles the bus drivers that goes on a strike back in November 2012 (AsiaOne 2013). The strike is carried out by a group of China SMRT bus drivers who is protesting over their pay and working conditions. According to Criminal Law Act, the employer has the rights to terminate the 171 employees (AsiaOne 2013) that go on strike as the bus service is an essential service in Singapore. Out of the employees, some of them were sent back to China while the rest were released on bail and was told to return back to work the next day. Among the employees who were released on bail, 3 of which refused to report for work for 6 weeks before SMRT officially terminate their contracts. According to Part II of the Employment Act, SMRT should have terminated their contracts 2 days after they were released from the bail. This is because that they failed to inform SMRT on their absence in 2 continuous working days. Instead of terminating the contracts, SMRT has been communicating with the 3 bus drivers and remunerate according to their terms. Even with the compensation, the 3 bus drivers refused to report for work instead they moved out of the SMRTâ€™s accommodation. Then they refused to communicate with the SMRT and rejected all of the remunerations. The decisions made by the 3 bus drivers left SMRT with no choice but to terminate their contracts with immediate effect. This incident point out that SMRT is a responsible and patience employer. As they tried to compensate the 3 bus drivers for at least 6 weeks before deciding to officially terminate their contracts. But this incident also reminds the SMRT to treat all of the employeesâ€™ equally in terms of pay and working conditions especially when the bus services is an essential service in Singapore.
With the mission to protect the employees against discrimination; equal pay and wrongful dismissal, the HR has to continual sought for more ways to further emphasize the Legislations. However, for the Legislations to work, the HR has to work together with the employer but at the same time establishing communication with the employees. This assessment has effectively analysed on the approaches that HR is able to use on both the organisation and the employees. These approaches will help the employer to attract, recruit, retain and boost the morale of the employees as they are treated equality. This will guarantee the organisation with continual growth and sustaining their competitive advantage.
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