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Just Got Retrenched In Singapore? Here Are 5 Important Steps For Protecting Yourself And Getting Your Career Back On Track

Suffering a retrenchment during a recession can be unnerving. Here’s what you can do to get your life and career back on track.


According to data released on 24 October 2019 by the Ministry of Manpower, more than 8,400 people in Singapore have been retrenched in the first 3 quarters of 2019 from private companies with at least 25 employees and the public sector.

Recent high-profile retrenchments include the laying off of about 160 staff from DFS Group in September 2019, and SPH’s retrenchment of 70 staff in October 2019, despite posting a net profit of $213.2 million for FY2019 that ended August 2019.

If you’re one of those who recently faced retrenchment, you may understandably feel lost or frustrated, especially if it is your first time dealing with such a situation. This article hopes to help outline steps you can take to protect yourself and get your career back on track as soon as possible.

Retrenchment Might Not Be Your Fault

Retrenchment is the process where employees are let go because of redundancy as a result of restructuring or the inability of a company to retain staff due to financial difficulties.

Unlike being fired from a job, retrenchment is often due to factors beyond your control, such as the economic climate, job functions shifting overseas, or management decisions.

Read Also:Here’s Why You Need To Prepare For Your Next Job While You’re In Your Current One

#1 Know Your Rights Under The Law

The law states that  employees need to have served for at least 2 years in the company to be eligible for retrenchment benefits, though companies could also grant retrenchment benefits to those who have not fulfilled the 2 year period out of goodwill.

The exact retrenchment benefit amount will follow what is specified in the employment contract (if applicable) or if there is a pre-negotiated collective agreement (for unionised companies).

If there is neither a collective agreement nor stated in the employment contract, then it will be negotiated between the employees and their employer. According to the Ministry of Manpower, the prevailing norm (but not requirement) for retrenchment benefits is between 2 weeks to 1 month of salary per year of service.

On your last day of work, your employer is required to pay all salaries and money owed to you. Be sure to make any claims beforehand to facilitate a smooth payment process.

In unionised companies, management is required by law to consult with the union before carrying out a retrenchment exercise. Seek out your union representative to find out what other forms of support has been negotiated for on your behalf.

If you think any laws have been broken or guidelines not followed, you can make report the infringement to the Ministry of Manpower.

Read Also: Watch: 4 Things Singapore Unions Do That You Did Not Know About

#2 Initiate A Handover Plan

Unless your entire department closes down or your job role has been made redundant, your colleagues who remain would appreciate your efforts to hand over things matters you’re handling and facilitate a smooth transition.

You can take the initiative to work out a transition plan, including suggesting colleagues who would be most suitable to take over your various job responsibilities.

You should probably do inventory all company equipment and documents, so you don’t accidentally take something home, which would be illegal. File and make all necessary claims beforehand, so there is time to process the paperwork and highlight discrepancies.

Do continue to give your best, right up till the last day of work. Acting professionally reflects your character and values, and allows you to leave with a good impression on everyone. This places you in the best possible position to embark on the next chapter of your career.

#3 Prepare Your Resume And Rolodex

If you’re retrenched, that means you’ve had a least one job. It is timely to update your resume with your latest professional accomplishments, acquired skills, and other relevant experiences.

You can start by gathering up the latest performance review, since it contains valuable details of your achievements at work and are endorsed by the people you worked for. If possible, you could also contact your former bosses or clients to write you a recommendation.

List down notable publications, articles or reports you authored so that you can proudly discuss how you put them together and the insights you can share at your next interview.

It also makes sense for you to collate all your educational certificates, including short-courses. Chances are, you might have missed out including some of them in your resume. After you have made a comprehensive list,  you can choose to remove less relevant ones in future, customised to the particular job(s) you are applying for.

After you’ve done your internal housekeeping, you’re ready to begin applying for jobs, seek out the services of a recruiter, or reach out to your professional network.

Read Also: 10 Courses You Can Use Your SkillsFuture Credits To Kickstart Your Entrepreneurial Journey

#4 Plan For A Sustainable Lifestyle While Job Hunting

Being unemployed is stressful for anyone, which could make you more susceptible to falling sick. Setting a healthy routine that includes a nutritious diet, some exercise and sufficient of rest will contribute to a more positive, hopeful outlook and keep you in the best possible condition to seize any opportunities that come your way.

The time you need to find your next job might also be uncertain, so you’ll probably want to live frugally so that you avoid dipping into your emergency savings as much as possible.

On the bright side, with more time on your hands, you can make plans to enjoy it with your loved ones, explore your hobbies, and plan for your road ahead. After all, a sabbatical is something many wish they could take, but few end up actually doing.

Read Also: 5 Ways Being Fit Can Help You Save Money

#5 Tap On Resources To Land Your Next Job

Initiatives like SkillsFuture mean that there are free or heavily-subsidised courses you can join. Many of these courses are of high quality and highly relevant. Attending courses allows you to network with fellow jobseekers or working professionals

If you are a Singaporean who is looking for a job but is unable to find one, Workforce Singapore can help connect you to the job you are looking for or link you to other agencies and organisations that can help.

There are also industry-specific training grants and other forms of job-matching and career guidance services provided by Workforce Singapore and their partners.

To get started, you can make an appointment with Workforce Singapore here. You will receive a call to arrange to meet up and be referred to the appropriate services and schemes that you are suitable for.

Read Also: Looking For A Job As A Singaporean? Here Are Government Grants, Resources And Other Support You Can Tap On: MyCareersFuture; Careers Connect; Career Support Programme

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