Changes to the Industrial Relations Act are in the pipeline to better meet the needs of professionals, managers and executives (or PMEs) in Singapore, as well as help employers and unions work together to engage this group of employees more effectively. Currently, PMEs comprise 30% of the Singapore workforce and the number is expected to grow.
Towards this end, the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2014 (the “Bill”) was passed in Parliament on 19 January 2015. It is not yet in force. The two main changes arising from the Bill are highlighted below.
Extending the scope of union representation on a collective basis for executives
This change seeks to allow trade unions of employees the majority of whose membership consists of non-executive employees (called rank and file trade unions) to represent executive employees for collective bargaining except executive employees with certain responsibilities. Examples of the excluded executive employees are those employed in senior management positions and those with substantial responsibilities for hiring, firing, promotion, dismissal and disciplinary duties.
Expanding the scope of limited representation on an individual basis to re-employment matters
This change seeks to expand the scope of areas where rank and file trade unions can represent executive employees on an individual basis to include disputes relating to re-employment after retirement. Currently, rank-and-file unions can represent executives on an individual basis in four limited areas, namely breach of individual contract of employment, retrenchment benefits, unfair dismissal and victimisation.
The Bill is expected to come into effect on 1 April 2015.
To help unions and employers address in good time the concerns that employers and unions have about how they should adapt to the amendments in the Bill, the tripartite partners (the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF)) have released the following Guidelines in advance:
- Tripartite Guidelines on Extending the Scope of Union Representation for Executives
- Tripartite Guidelines on Expanding the Scope of Limited Representation for Executives
The two sets of Guidelines are expected to take effect together with the commencement of the Bill.