SINGAPORE - Tax incentives for companies to hire operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen), government help on employer Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions during in-camp training (ICT), and more allowances for unemployed NSmen.
These suggestions thrown up at a focus group discussion at The Chevrons Club on Saturday reflected some of the challenges that NSmen employees and employers alike face in finding a balance between meeting work and national service (NS) obligations.
The attendees raised issues ranging from foreign bosses who lack empathy when their employees attend ICT to companies facing manpower crunch during this period.
Some expressed concerns that their career prospects might be affected when they are away for ICT, while others said small and medium enterprises might be reluctant to hire NSmen.
"A lot of employers get unhappy when staff leave for ICT, for up to three weeks," said a maintenance officer, who wanted to be known only as Mr Neo.
The 33-year-old NSman, who serves in the air force, called for measures to ease the burden of companies with NSmen in their payroll.
At an employers' forum last month, Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing said Mindef would consider helping companies pay their NSmen-employee CPF contributions during ICT periods.
Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, who attended Saturday's discussion, said the issues raised were "things we can adapt to, things we can improve", to make fulfilling NS obligations more convenient for all parties concerned.