Singapore | Navigating choppy waters: Employment measures in the age of COVID-19

There is no doubt the world has changed – for certain businesses, even previously reliable revenue has severely declined, and for the first time employers are examining their otherwise stable workforce with an apprehensive eye on surviving the coming months.

Across the world, employment norms are shifting, and this is equally true in Singapore. 

In March 2020, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) issued a directive that companies must notify the MOM if any cost-cutting measure taken during the COVID-19 epidemic impacts employees' salaries, and indicate that any change has been introduced fairly. Whilst the intention is, "to encourage a sense of social responsibility and prevent downstream salary disputes", the indication is clear – if measures must be taken to protect employee jobs, even if those measures adversely impact salary, then so be it. 

So, with remote working becoming the norm, and retrenchment remaining a "last resort", what options are available for Singapore employers looking to batten down the hatches? This briefing sets out a high-level summary of the most common issues facing employers in Singapore.

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