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Helping Employers understand their Obligations
12 August 2020
The outbreak of COVID-19 had a significant impact on employers’ duties and responsibilities. As a result, ASPRI’s Knowledge, Education, Experience and Networking (KEEN) Work Group worked with Mr David Shanmugam, Counsel from Netto & Magin LLC, to organise a series of complimentary legal webinars. Forty members attended the first webinar on 12 August 2020 aimed at examining the responsibilities of employers and the additional duties they have to undertake during this challenging period.
In her opening address, Ms Huang Wen Jia, Committee Member of ASPRI’s 13th Executive Council and the Co-Lead of ASPRI’s KEEN Work Group, touched on how companies’ financial strength and manpower had been affected by the pandemic and fully empathised with members going through this difficult period..
At the start of his presentation, Mr Shanmugam gave a quick recap of the safe-distancing measures announced by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on 3 April 2020. He then highlighted the responsibilities of employers and how they must fulfil them to the best of their ability. They should not discriminate against any particular group of people irrespective of their age, race, gender, religion, marital status, family responsibility or disability.
Mr Shanmugam also proposed that, where possible, companies should redeploy employees to alternative areas of work where their skills might be more suited for the job. Employers could also implement flexible work schedules and work arrangements to accommodate both parties.
But if retrenchment was inevitable, Mr Shanmugam said it was important that employees were treated with dignity and respect during a retrenchment exercise and the selection of employees should be conducted fairly, based on objective criteria.
On salary or working hours negotiations, Mr Shanmugam advised employers and employees to discuss the matter amicably to achieve an acceptable solution by taking into consideration both business needs and employee’s concerns. If no agreement could be reached, the initial contractual terms and conditions must remain unchanged. However, either party could serve notice and end the employment relationship.
Members had the opportunity to clarify their doubts during the Q&A session at the end of the webinar.