No one-size-fits-all approach to address employers' concerns on NS: Chan Chun Sing
- POSTED: 27 Sep 2013 21:56
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Second Defence Minister Chan Chun Sing said it was difficult to have a single policy to offer greater flexibility for firms and employees when it comes to National Service.
SINGAPORE: Second Defence Minister Chan Chun Sing said it was difficult to have a single policy to offer greater flexibility for firms and employees when it comes to National Service.
He said the different needs of firms and varied vocations of Singapore's civilian soldiers meant that finding a one-size-fits-all approach will not be easy.
Mr Chan shared his opinions on Friday in a candid discussion with employers on how companies and servicemen can be better supported when it came to National Service.
Different companies face different challenges -- this point became clear as some 30 employers brainstormed ideas on how firms and staff can better manage demands when the military calls workers up to serve the country.
The Committee to Strengthen National Service is forging ahead with feedback-gathering on how to recognise contributions of servicemen and their employers.
At Friday's focus group discussion, participants suggested tax breaks or cash incentives for firms -- which often feel the pinch when staff are called up to serve.
Mr Chan said: "The question is -- 'Where do we draw the line? And is that the best message we send?' But on the other hand, incentives and rewards almost always have a monetary perspective to it. So how do we find that balance between not monetising National Service, and yet at the same time recognising it."
Others felt that it was not about the money, but the process -- as many companies juggle their employees' call-of-duty to the nation and the firm's operational needs, employers want the administrative process for National Service call-ups to be smoothened.
Thus, employers have suggested the creation of an online portal where firms can see when their staff will be called-up. At the same time, the portal can be used to justify to military commanders why a particular employee has to defer the call-of-duty.
Elango Subramanian, director of Raffles Corporate Advisory and a member of the Singapore Business Federation, said: "An online portal will be very good -- because these days when we apply for deferment, the commander doesn't know why we are applying for deferment. We may have various genuine reasons (for doing so)."
Employers also suggested more options for staff to keep in touch with work during their military stint, like allowing the use of laptop computers in camps.