New measures to support employee loyalty in the construction, shipping and process sectors, job news & top stories

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SINGAPORE – New measures are being introduced to help retain work permit holders and alleviate the staffing shortages currently facing construction, shipyard and process (CMP) companies.

In a statement on Saturday (Oct. 30), the Department of Labor (MOM) said the construction sector employee loyalty program, which is keeping senior workers in Singapore and helping companies meet their manpower needs, will be expanded to include the shipyard and process sectors.

The program enables workers who have terminated their employment but wish to continue working in Singapore to find a new job, with job placement facilitated by the industry association.

The department said it has partnered with the Association of Singapore Marine Industries and the Association of Process Industry to expand the retention program to the shipyard and process sectors, and that the two associations will provide more details on their respective programs, when you are ready.

Representatives of the associations said the programs should be launched “in a few months”.

The employee loyalty program was launched on September 1st in partnership with the Singapore Contractors Association for construction companies and has benefited 52 companies so far.

“This has helped moderate the outflow of construction workers given the limited influx of new workers due to border controls from Covid-19,” MOM said.

The regulation for the construction sector applies until February 28 of next year, subject to further review.

At the same time, the change of employer without a period of consent for work permit holders in the CMP areas will be postponed to the end of the contract.

Currently, prospective employers can hire a work permit holder without the consent of the original employer in the 21 to 40 days before the permit expires.

In future, the holders of a work permit will remain employed by their current employer until the work permit expires. Thereafter, the permit can be extended by 30 days by mutual agreement between the employee and the employer.

The employee can use this 30-day period to look for another employer without the consent of their original employer, who can also keep the employee for up to 30 days.

If there is no agreement between the two parties regarding an extension of the work permit by 30 days, the employee will be included in the employee loyalty program and the industry associations will facilitate the placement of a new employer within 30 days.

This adjustment to the change of employer without an approval period will be implemented from November 8 in the construction sector and at a later date gradually in the shipyards and process sectors, the ministry said.

This adjustment will stay in place as long as the withholding rules are in place, with industry associations to provide more details when they are ready, she added.

Regarding this change, the three industry associations said it would offer more security in their workforce planning, as employees now have to meet their contract period.

“This will also reduce unnecessary anxiety between employers and employees during the 21-40 day changeover period before the ID card expires,” they added.

A to Z Engineering is one of the 52 companies in the construction industry that have benefited from the restraint.

The director, Mr. Wee Han De, said the company managed to get a worker through the program.

“The company is currently facing a labor shortage and … this program has helped alleviate operational needs,” he said, noting that the company currently has 12 employees and no new hires since the Covid-19 pandemic from abroad broke out last year.

The center for migrant workers welcomed the new measures in a Facebook post.

“The expansion of the program will allow more migrant workers to continue working in Singapore while alleviating labor shortages in the other sectors,” it said.


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