New guidelines for job flexibility in service sector kick in July 1

PHOTO: New guidelines for job flexibility in service sector kick in July 1

SINGAPORE - guidelines for job flexibility in the services sector kick in next Monday, and the government has called for employers to be "fair and responsible" when exercising flexibility in deploying their workers.

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Here is the press release from MOM:

As announced by Acting Minister for Manpower, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, on March 14, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will implement the Job Flexibility Scheme in the Services sector on July 1.

This will allow Work Permit Holders in the Services sector to be flexibly deployed by multi-tasking across occupations within the same business in addition to the occupation specified in the Work Permit. This will help businesses enhance productivity amidst the tightened foreign manpower rules.

Since March 2013, MOM, together with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), have been in close consultations to develop Tripartite Guidelines to ensure employers implement the Job Flexibility Scheme responsibly.

The Guidelines set out principles on how employers may exercise job flexibility, and remind employers of their legal and contractual obligations.

Mr Adrian Chua, Divisional Director of Manpower Planning & Policy at the Manpower Ministry, called on employers to use the scheme and ensure they remain fair to workers.

Mr Chua said: "Employers should use the scheme sensibly and reasonably, making sure that employees are adequately trained before performing new tasks. Companies should take this opportunity to review their manpower practices and use job flexibility to improve productivity. The value of the resulting productivity improvements and savings should be shared with employees, especially with those who perform additional tasks."

"Overall, the Services sector had a job vacancy rate of 3.1% as compared to 1.9% in manufacturing as at March 2013. SNEF welcomes the Scheme as it will help businesses from the Services sector to optimise the use of manpower. However, employers must provide adequate training for their workers to enable them to contribute effectively when multitasked. Employers should also brief their workers properly on expectations and benefits," said Mr Koh Juan Kiat, SNEF's Executive Director.

In addition, the Tripartite Guidelines also reiterate the employment and employment-related laws that employers are expected to comply with. Before exercising job flexibility, employers should inform their employees of their redefined job scopes, and seek their employees' consent before assigning them to new tasks.

Ms Cham Hui Fong, Assistant Secretary-General of NTUC, added, "Our key concerns are for employers to ensure fair opportunities for all workers to upgrade and reskill, and fair gain-sharing when job redesign exercises lead to improved productivity. In doing so, we hope that employers will remain mindful to exercise due diligence and discretion in redefining job scopes and ensure the welfare of their workers are looked after."

Licensing requirements for licensed and registered occupations1 continue to apply, in addition to the Tripartite Guidelines for Job Flexibility Scheme.