SINGAPORE: The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) is looking into the manner in which travel retailer DFS Group's retrenchment exercise is carried out, the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation said on Saturday (Sep 28).
DFS Group had announced in August that it will not retain its duty-free liquor and tobacco concession at Changi Airport when its lease expires in June next year.
It was reported on Thursday that about 60 workers in DFS Group’s Singapore-based operations were asked to leave with immediate effect.
In response to CNA's queries, a DFS spokesperson said that it faced "a more challenging global travel retail environment", and that it has made the decision to "rebalance its workforce in Singapore".
It added: "Our priority now is to support our employees during this period of change."
In the statement issued on Saturday, the taskforce said it is in contact with the retailer, and that the Ministry of Manpower has received DFS' notification of retrenchment.
It said firms should adhere to the guidelines from TAFEP to "help them implement their retrenchment exercise responsibly and sensitively".
"We urge companies to pay the prevailing norm for retrenchment benefits, unless they are financially unable to do so," the taskforce added in its statement.
Workforce Singapore will offer employment assistance services to the affected workers, the statement added.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said companies should handle retrenchment “responsibly and sensitively”.
She said: "I think DFS could have better handled their recent retrenchment exercise, particularly in the way they communicated with their employees and how they offered the severance packages."
The company is now adjusting its approach and "taking appropriate steps" to address affected employees' concerns after TAFEP stepped in, she added.
Companies that find themselves with excess manpower should first consider re-deploying the affected staff to other business units or functions, the minister said.
"After best efforts to re-deploy, if they find they still have to let some people go, employers owe it to their staff to handle things properly,” the minister explained.
“Among other things, (companies) should provide adequate notice and support such as placement assistance.”
Ms Teo added: "So far, retrenchment levels in Singapore have not risen beyond that seen in the last few years.
"I urge employers to act responsibly if they need to retrench. Retrenchment is never easy, but handling it sensitively and responsibly can go a long way in helping employees through the transition."
In the statement on Saturday, the taskforce also “strongly encouraged” companies considering retrenchment to give prior notification to the taskforce.
“Early notification will enable the taskforce to help companies on any potential labour relations issues as well as provide affected workers with employment assistance,” it said.