Singapore introduces guidelines on how to manage excess manpower in view of COVID-19

In view of the evolving COVID-19 situation in Singapore and worldwide, businesses in some sectors have suffered sharp declines in volume and revenue. As a response, some employers have started to implement cost-saving measures, said Ministry of Manpower (MOM). 

Together with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), MOM has updated its advisory on how to manage excess manpower for employers. 

Photo courtesy: Singapore Tourism Board
Photo courtesy: Singapore Tourism Board

MOM encouraged the implementation of a Flexible Work Schedule (FWS) to allow companies to optimise the use of manpower when they go through cyclical troughs and peaks. This also enables employees to be assured of a stable monthly income. 

As businesses slow during this period, employers can consider reducing weekly working hours, creating a “timebank” of unused working hours, MOM said. These can then be used to offset the increase in working hours in subsequent periods.

From March 12, employers are also required to notify MOM if they implement any cost-saving measures during this period that affects the employees’ monthly salaries. They will also need to indicate that they have done so fairly. 

This new requirement applies to employers with 10 or more employees, and is intended to be a temporary measure until the economy recovers.