1. The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015 (“Amendment Act”) and changes to its related Regulations have been gazetted and will come into operation on 1 April 2015.
  2. The Amendment Act, which was passed from the Bill stage on 19 January 2015 without amendments, amends the Industrial Relations Act (Cap. 136) for the following main purposes:
    1. allowing trade unions of employees, the majority of whose membership consists of non-executive employees (commonly called rank and file trade unions), to represent executive employees for collective bargaining (except executive employees with specific responsibilities); and
    2. extending the areas where rank and file trade unions can represent executive employees on an individual basis to include re-employment disputes.
  3. The Amendment Act also makes consequential amendments to the Retirement and Re-employment Act (Cap. 274A) and the Trade Unions Act (Cap. 333).
  4. In anticipation of the proposed amendments, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) and its Tripartite partners, the National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation, released two sets of Guidelines on 26 November 2014: 
    1. the Tripartite Guidelines on Extending the Scope of Union Representation for Executives, which sets out the various options for representation of executives and provides supplementary criteria for unions and companies to negotiate on the level of executives in the organisation eligible for collective representation so that both parties can move at a pace that they are comfortable with; and
    2. the Tripartite Guidelines on Expanding the Scope of Limited Representation for Executives, which is an update of the existing guidelines in relation to the limited representation framework, where individual re-employment is included as an additional area for negotiation between employers and unions (collectively, the “Tripartite Guidelines”).
  5. We consider that trade unions are likely to seek recognition in relation to executive employees, who form a significant portion of the workforce. In this regard, collective agreements of rank and file employees commonly contain provisions on matters such as working hours and overtime, minimum salary and negotiations on increments and annual wage supplements, which may not be suitable for inclusion in relation to executive employees. In engaging with trade unions, employers with executive employees in unionised sectors may wish to pay particular attention to the key concerns of these employees, as well as the scope of employees who will be collectively represented by the trade unions.
  6. For reference, the Amendment Act and its related Regulations may be accessed at the following links:
    1. Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015: http://www.egazette.com.sg/pdf.aspx?ct=as&yr=2015&filename=15acts09.pdf
    2. Commencement Notification: http://www.egazette.com.sg/pdf.aspx?ct=sls&yr=2015&filename=15sls154.pdf
    3. Industrial Relations (Recognition of a Trade Union of Employees) (Amendment) Regulations 2015: http://www.egazette.com.sg/pdf.aspx?ct=sls&yr=2015&filename=15sls155.pdf
    4. Industrial Relations (Referee Appeal) (Amendment) Regulations 2015: http://www.egazette.com.sg/pdf.aspx?ct=sls&yr=2015&filename=15sls156.pdf
    5. Industrial Relations (Amendment) Regulations 2015: http://www.egazette.com.sg/pdf.aspx?ct=sls&yr=2015&filename=15sls157.pdf
  7. The full text of the Tripartite Guidelines may be found on the MOM website at:
    1. Tripartite Guidelines on Extending the Scope of Union Representation for Executives:  http://www.mom.gov.sg/Documents/employment-practices/Guidelines/Tripartite%20Guidelines%20-%20Collective%20Representation.pdf
    2. Tripartite Guidelines on Expanding the Scope of Limited Representation for Executives: http://www.mom.gov.sg/Documents/employment-practices/Guidelines/Tripartite%20Guidelines%20-%20Limited%20Representation.pdf