by Augustine Low
During the first two days of parliamentary speeches, one proposal that stood out came from Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Chong Kee Hiong.
He put forward the idea yesterday that workers should be allowed to take up two jobs for “better job security”.
Employers who currently bar their employees from taking up a second job should change their thinking, he reasoned. Instead, they should encourage workers to learn and apply new skills to pursue an additional vocation.
Chong is not talking about giving workers the opportunity to moonlight for extra income. He is talking about workers taking on dual roles within the organisation, especially one with different business units.
Citing an example, he said the F&B sector was badly hit by the COVID-19 outbreak but supermarkets and online grocers saw good business: “So if a company runs a restaurant and also sells and delivers ingredients, it will be able to ride out this storm better.”
And get this – he adds that employees’ pay should not be affected in this arrangement. While it may mean that one would not get a pay cut but at the same time, it would mean that there is no extra income for doing two jobs within the organisation!
Chong urged the government to incentivise companies and workers to adopt this approach.
Perhaps the MP is speaking from experience because he himself has two jobs. He has a part-time job as an MP while holding a full-time job as Chief Executive Officer of Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust (Suntec REIT).
But the big difference is that Chong is paid $16,000 for being a part-time MP and another hefty salary for being a corporate CEO.
Curiously enough, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre (Suntec Singapore) last week announced that 85 of their employees were retrenched because the industry has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Suntec Singapore comes under the portfolio of Suntec REIT, overseen by Chong as the CEO.
Couldn’t Chong have recommended that his great idea be put into practice? Wouldn’t it have averted the retrenchment exercise by Suntec Singapore?
Correction — Post edited to correct quotation of the MP