The Industrial Relations Act (the “IRA”) provides a framework for the prevention and settlement of trade disputes in Singapore through collective bargaining, conciliation and arbitration.

From 1 to 21 November 2013, the Ministry of Manpower (the “MOM”) conducted a public consultation on proposed changes to the IRA and sought feedback on the recommendations outlined below. In the main, the recommendations seek to provide professionals, managers and executives (“PMEs”) with more options for representation at the workplace.

By way of background, the IRA was amended in 2002 to introduce limited representation whereby rank-and-file (“R&F”) unions could represent PMEs for certain industrial matters on an individual basis.

Representation of PMEs in collective bargaining

The MOM recommends building on the 2002 amendment to also allow R&F unions to represent PMEs collectively. The proposed changes are as follows:

  • To address employers’ concerns of conflict of interest and to preserve management effectiveness, senior management and certain categories of executives with substantial managerial responsibilities will continue to be excluded from collective representation.
  • Collective representation for PMEs will cover all industrial matters, except areas such as promotion, transfer, employment, termination, dismissal and assignment of duties which are the prerogative of employers.

Limited representation of PMEs on an individual basis

The MOM recognises that while more PMEs would be likely to seek union assistance when they encounter employment problems, not all will see the need for union in collective representation. Hence, the following changes are proposed:

  • Limited representation on an individual basis will be retained as an option for union representation of PMEs.
  • The areas for limited representation will be extended to include re-employment disputes.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg: