This article was first published on DollarsAndSense.sg
While National Service (NS) obligations such as in-camp training (ICT) or remedial trainings (RT) might bring some inconvenience to your business, these duties are essential to keep Singapore safe, and companies are required by law to support their employees’ NS commitments.
Here are the basics that employers need to know about reservist obligations, and what they entail for Singaporean male employees.
#1 Call-Up For In-Camp Training (ICT)
With the exception of a national emergency, National Servicemen (NSmen) will always receive advance notice for planned upcoming training. This provides ample time for their employer to make arrangements for their absence.
NSmen have the responsibility to notify their companies immediately once they receive their training notification. They should furnish you with a copy of the SAF100 form, which states the dates when they will be called up and required to be excused from work duties.
Generally, NSmen should expect the following advance notice periods for NS activities:
High Key Training: Each session is 7 days or more, and NSmen will be notified 6 months in advance;
Low Key Training: Each session is less than 7 days, and NSmen will be notified 3 months in advance;
Make-Up Training and other call-up activities: NSmen will be notified 1 month in advance.
In addition, you should remind your staff to keep their contact details with their unit current, so as to avoid any delays in notification.
#2 Applying For Deferment
Deferment, which refers to the postponement of an ICT, and may be granted by the Ministry of Defence after consideration of the justifications provided by the NSman.
Usually, NSmen may apply for deferment on legitimate/compassionate grounds, such as the birth of child, or if they are taking examinations or professional evaluations.
While work commitments are not grounds for deferment given the generous notification period provided to the NSman, certain work-related deferments may be granted, such as:
- If your staff is a new hire and is on his first three months of employment with your company;
- When two or more NSmen employed in the same capacity in the same department of your company are called up for ICT at the same time.
As a note, deferment is strongly discouraged as it is important to ensure the operational readiness of NSmen, and every deferment application is subjected to approval by the respective units.
NSmen who have deferred their ICTs are required to attend Make-Up Training, and they are only given a notice period of 1 month for their Make-Up Training.
In an event of a national emergency, NSmen may be mobilised for duty or operations. In peacetime, mobilisation exercises are conducted to maintain operational readiness.
NSmen can be activated either through silent or open mobilisation:
- Silent mobilisation: Activation through fixed telephone lines, mobile phone, fax or notices delivered to the homes of NSmen;
- Open mobilisation: Activation through media, such as television, radio, cinemas, in addition to activation used during silent mobilisation.
As an employer, it is important that you should let your staff respond to any mobilisation notification immediately within the stipulated time, which could take place over weekends or Public Holidays.
#4 Overseas Travel For Work
NSmen who have to travel overseas for more than 14 days are required to notify the relevant authorities of their travel.
As an employer, you should take note of the following requirements for notification of overseas movements, should you be sending your staff for overseas assignments:
- For trips of 14 days or less, no notification is required;
- For trips of more than 14 days, but less than 6 months, NSman must inform of their trip;
- For trips of 6 months or more, NSman should apply for exit permit.
In the event your staff is required to notify of their trips or apply for exit permit, they should log on to NS Portal to do so.
Alternatively, for trips of more than 14 days but less than 6 months, they can call the NS hotline at 1800 367 6767.
#5 Getting Paid During ICT
Service pay is provided to your staff when they are on ICT, including Saturdays and Sundays, which is paid according to the rank and vocation of the NSman.
If there is a shortfall between their civilian salary and their service pay, you can apply for make-up pay (MUP), which is calculated based on the basic salary or allowance payable to your staff during their ICT.
While MUP claim can be done by your staff, you are encouraged to register for direct reimbursement of MUP under Direct Reimbursement to Employers of Claims for NS Training Scheme (DIRECT). Under this arrangement, you will continue to pay your staff as per your company’s pay schedule, and in turn, you will get reimbursement from the government.
Payment will be made directly to your company, and your staff will not be required to file a claim. Claims should be submitted 2 weeks prior to commencement of ICT, and can either be done via the NS portal, or the make-up claim form which can be downloaded online.
In addition, you should also continue to pay the CPF contribution of your staff during the ICT period, based on the usual remuneration, as though the staff has not been away from work.
It is a fact that employing someone who has to take leave periodically to serve the country can mean some disruption for employers. However, planning ahead before your employee’s callup by taking note of all the points above can help minimise disruptions to your business.
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