SINGAPORE: The National Wages Council (NWC) will meet again later this month to review the wages and employment guidelines it issued in March and will aim to release updated guidelines by September, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Singapore’s labour market continues to evolve.
Tripartite leaders have agreed to reconvene in order to “provide timely and relevant guidance to employers” given the challenging situation, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a news release on Friday (Aug 14).
The meeting was announced earlier this month by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, after a meeting with National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Ng Chee Meng and president of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) Robert Yap.
“In the light of the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, companies and especially workers, it is important that the tripartite partners review the challenges posed and make recommendations to respond to the issues,” said NWC chairman Peter Seah.
“In the past, the NWC with the tripartite partners have provided guidance to mitigate through very challenging times. It is timely now, for the NWC to meet again to do so.”
The council previously met in March, during which it released a set of recommendations to guide employers as the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions to Singapore’s labour market.
It asked employers to “reduce non-wage costs and consider various measures to utilise and manage excess manpower” and to tap on Government support to offset business and wage costs.
It also urged them adopt a graduated approach to trimming wages and to give “special consideration” to low-wage workers.
LABOUR MARKET SOFTNESS "LIKELY TO PERSIST"
The council, which usually meets once a year, had said in March it would reconvene to review the wage guidelines later in the year if the situation warranted it.
“The labour market has softened considerably since,” MOM said in Friday's news release.
“The overall unemployment rate rose from 2.4 per cent in March 2020 to 2.9 per cent in June 2020, and retrenchments were much higher in 2Q 2020 (6,700), compared to a quarter ago (3,220).
"The softness in the labour market is likely to persist amidst the weak external economic environment, and the pressure on companies to retrench will mount.”
The public may submit feedback and suggestions to the NWC Secretariat via an online link, which will be open until Aug 28, MOM said.