On 26 November 2014, the tripartite partners, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) released two sets of Guidelines:

  • Tripartite Guidelines on Extending the Scope of Union Representation for Executives (the “Union Representation Guidelines”); and
  • Tripartite Guidelines on Expanding the Scope of Limited Representation for Executives (the “Limited Representation Guidelines”).

Effective date

The Union Representation Guidelines and Limited Representation Guidelines will take effect together with the commencement of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2014 (the “Bill”) that was introduced in Parliament on 3 November 2014. The changes introduced by the Bill will:

  • 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 specific responsibilities; and
  • to extend the areas where rank and file trade unions can represent executive employees on an individual basis to include re-employment disputes.

The changes to the Industrial Relations Act are expected to come into force on or after 1 April 2015. The tripartite partners have released the two sets of Guidelines in advance 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.

Tripartite Guidelines on Extending the Scope of Union Representation for Executives

The Union Representation Guidelines provide for the eligibility of executives for collective representation, union membership and leadership as well as representation of executives by rank-and-file trade unions at the workplace.

However, it is provided that to avoid conflict of interest and the undermining of management effectiveness, executives with the following responsibilities should be excluded from representation by the unions:

  • an employee in a senior management position or who has control and supervision of major business operations, is accountable for operational performance, does the planning of business policies and strategies, and provides leadership to other employees.
  • an employee who has decision making powers on any industrial matter including the employment, termination of employment, promotion, transfer, reward or discipline of other employees;
  • an employee who represents the employer in negotiation with the union on any industrial matter;
  • an employee who has access to confidential information relating to the budget and finances of the employer, any industrial relations matter or the salaries and personal records of other employees; or
  • an employee who is in a role which may give rise to a conflict of interest if he is represented by a trade union.
  • In addition to the above, employers and unions may mutually agree to adopt the following parameters to determine eligibility:
  • salary level as a proxy; and/or
  • proportion of executives within the organisation.

Tripartite Guidelines on Expanding the Scope of Limited Representation for Executives

A set of Tripartite Guidelines on Union Representation of Executives was issued in 2002 to facilitate the process of employees in managerial and executive positions joining the rank-and-file trade unions for limited representation. The tripartite partners have revised the guidelines to include re-employment as another area for individual representation.

Following the revision, the Limited Representation Guidelines provide that a rank-and-file trade unions which has been accorded recognition to collectively represent rank-and-file employees, may represent its executive members individually, and not as a class, for disputes in any of the following areas:

  • Retrenchment benefits;
  • Dismissal;
  • Breach of individual contract;
  • Victimisation; and
  • Re-employment.

The Limited Representation Guidelines also set out the grounds on which an employer may object to limited representation of an executive employee.

Reference materials

The following materials are available from the Ministry of Manpower website www.mov.gov.sg: