By Linette Lim
SINGAPORE: Low unemployment rates and a widespread practice of companies in the Republic paying retrenchment benefits are reasons why it is not appropriate for the country to put in place unemployment benefits or redundancy insurance, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say in Parliament on Friday (Apr 8).
[That's right. With Low Unemployment rates, there is no need for unemployment benefits such as Unemployment Insurance, for example. Just like Fire Insurance. Is your home currently on fire? No? Then you don't need Fire Insurance! ]
Mr Lim made this case in response to calls by Nominated Member of Parliament Azmoon Ahmad, and MPs Patrick Tay and Sylvia Lim for greater support to retrenched workers.
Rejecting the suggestions mooted, Mr Lim said that Singapore’s employment situation is “quite different” from that in countries providing unemployment benefits.
“Our unemployment rates are low, our long-term unemployment rates are also low,” he said. “At the same time, the practice of paying retrenchment benefits is widespread.”
RETRENCHMENT BENEFITS A “STANDARD PRACTICE”
Citing an MOM survey, Mr Lim said it was “standard practice” for companies in Singapore to pay retrenchment benefits, with nine in 10 retrenching firms doing so. At the same time, nine in 10 retrenched workers received retrenchment benefits, including from non-unionised companies.
“I do sympathise and empathise with workers who are affected by retrenchment and I appreciate the suggestions by various members,” said Mr Lim, emphasising that efforts to help those retrenched must be focused on getting them to “go back to work as quickly as possible”.
[See? If your house is on fire, what you want is the Fire Brigade to come immediately. Fire Insurance is NOT going to put out the fire. Our government has rightly focused on providing Fire Fighting service.]
Responding to a question by MP Lim Biow Chuan, he also explained why Government does not support making retrenchment benefits “compulsory”.
Noting that this is a topic discussed from time to time, the Manpower Minister said the tripartite partners agree that it is important to allow for the “flexibility to negotiate … rather than prescribing it in the law”.
“This is because different retrenching companies are in different circumstances. And therefore there should not be a one-size-fits-all rule,” he said.