by Professor Sattar Bawany
The Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) advance labour market estimates, released on 29 July, stated that retrenchments in Singapore were much higher in the second quarter of this year (6,700), compared with the previous quarter (3,220).
MOM’s retrenchment data covers private establishments with at least 25 employees as well as the public sector comprising government ministries, organs of state, and statutory boards.
These figures, therefore, do not include employees made redundant by micro-SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 10 employees).
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected SMEs, in particular micro-SMEs. The crisis has already transformed into an economic and labour market shock, affecting all businesses regardless of size.
In the coming months, many employees from these micro-SMEs are expected to be made redundant because of the bleak economy.
In light of the disruptive impact of the pandemic on jobs and livelihoods, MOM should capture, record, and publish data on employees retrenched from micro-SMEs for greater transparency and a more accurate picture of the retrenchment situation in Singapore.
Separately, MOM requires employers with at least 10 staff members that retrench five or more employees within any six-month period to inform the ministry within five working days of notifying their employees.
This exempts employers with fewer than 10 employees from submitting mandatory retrenchment notifications.
What is the basis for such an exemption? The employees of such organisations are entitled to the same privileges and support as those from larger firms.