[Speech] Parliament 2017 – Amendments to Civil Law Act Bill (on Arbitration)

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT-2ND READING OF THE CIVIL LAW ACT (AMDT) BILL ON 10/1/17

Madam Speaker, I declare my interest as a Fellow of the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators.

I rise to support this Bill which seeks to abolish the common law tort of maintenance and champerty in Singapore and allowing third-party funding contracts in certain prescribed categories of dispute resolution proceedings (international arbitration and related proceedings) as well as set out the regulations around this.

I agree with the ambit of the proposed bill and objective to allow international businesses to use funding tools available in other jurisdictions and promote Singapore’s growth as a leading venue for international arbitration.

Source: Singaporelaw.sg

According to the SIAC Annual Report 2015, 84% of new cases filed with SIAC in 2015 were international in nature, and 42% had no connection with Singapore.

As third-party funding is becoming a feature in major arbitration centres around the world, allowing third-party funding in Singapore for international arbitration will offer international businesses an additional financing option for international commercial arbitration in Singapore.

However, I would like to highlight two suggestions for Ministry’s consideration.

(i)​ To promulgate a set of guidelines on entering into third-party funding contracts

I submit that Ministry of Law or relevant industry accepted organisations should promulgate a set of guidelines that would help parties to navigate potential areas of concern (e.g. conflicts of interest) arising from third-party funding arrangements in relation to the tripartite relationship of third-party funder, solicitor and client as parties should mitigate risks through formulation of a third-party funding contract which covers these areas of concern.

One example would be to emphasise that the solicitor-client relationship takes precedence in the tripartite relationship and especially as solicitors are allowed to introduce or refer a Third-Party Funder to the client.

Some of these potential areas of conflict are addressed in the new Sections 3A(b) and 3(A)(c) in the Legal Profession Act (Cap.161). However, they could be further expanded on in the guidelines to cover other situations where conflicts of interest may arise.

For example, a major potential area of conflict is in relation to settlements.

While both funders and funded litigants have broadly the same interest in maximising any settlement or damages award and they will share the proceeds of the litigation, they can find themselves in conflict over whether or not to settle.

This conflict can best be dealt with by providing that any irreconcilable difference over settlement be referred to counsel in the proceedings for a binding expert opinion.

In the same vein, conflicts of interest which are thought to be inherent in funded proceedings can be avoided or resolved by ensuring that the lawyers’ fiduciary and professional duties to the litigants are given precedence over any duties or contractual obligations the lawyer may owe to the funder. A properly drafted funding agreement will do just that.

One example would be that the disclosure of client’s privileged information to third-party funder should be made on the agreement that the third-party funder is bound to maintain confidentiality of the privileged information shared.

Another example would be the disclosure of funding arrangements to parties in the arbitration and to the arbitrator. In the pubic consultation on this bill, it was stated that amendments to the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules 2015 were envisaged.

These related amendments were expected to draw reference from best practices and international standards reflected in the revised International Bar Association Guidelines on Conflict of Interest in International Arbitration (October 2014) which provides in General Standard 7 that funding arrangements ought to be disclosed to the arbitrator and parties to the arbitration.

(ii)​ To Promulgate a Code of Conduct for Third-Party Funders

Allowing third-party funding in international arbitration in Singapore may lead to third-party funding organisations to set up/operate in Singapore.

As the number of third-party funders increase in Singapore, it would be ideal to have the third-party funders come together to design a code of conduct to self-regulate their involvement in third-party funding arrangements. Self-regulation provides greater transparency and raises standards of funding arrangements whilst not being overly restrictive on funding arrangements.

For example, the Association of Litigation Funders (the ALF) in England and Wales is an independent body that has been charged by the Ministry of Justice, through the Civil Justice Council, with delivering self-regulation of litigation funding in England and Wales.

The members of the Association are governed by a Code of Conduct which sets out standards of practice and behaviour to be observed by funders in respect of funding the resolution of disputes within England and Wales.

Madam Speaker, hoping Ministry of Law would take cognizance and consider these two suggestions, I support the Bill.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/patrick-tay/speech-in-parliament-2nd-reading-of-the-civil-law-act-amdt-bill-on-10117-by-mr-p/1192263654142047

[Speech] Parliament 2017 – Retirement & Re-Employment

Speech in Parliament – 2nd Reading of the Retirement & Re-Employment (Amdt) Bill on 9/1/17

Madam Speaker, I rise in support of this Bill which will extend the re-employment age from the current 65 to 67 from 1 July this year. Besides this extension, two other key amendments will be effected.

First, is the repeal of Section 5 of the current Act which effectively means abolishing the provision which had allowed employers to reduce up to 10% of salary once an employee reaches the age of 60 years.

Second, an employer who finds suitable employment for an employee (who is supposed to be re-employed) with another employer is considered to have fulfilled his obligation under the Act.

The extension of re-employment age is a welcome move by our unions, union leaders, union members and workers as this is something NTUC and the Labour Movement has been lobbying for. This issue is of urgency and importance especially with our ageing populace as it will provide our workers who are keen and able to continue working the opportunity to be re-employed until the age of 67.

I applaud the tripartite partners for their untiring efforts in reviewing and improving the current Act. This set of amendments and the upcoming tripartite guidelines were arrived at through heavy discussions and robust negotiations and will benefit ALL employees, whether low wage workers or professional, managers and executives.

Although this deck of amendments is a positive step forward, how it is executed and rolled out is vital.

I ask that respective tripartite partners play their part to ensure its success.

Employers

With our tight labour market and stagnating employment growth, employers play the most important role in having not just fair but progressive practices in the hiring of the not-so-young workers especially the re-employment of workers.

In my regular ground engagements with workers especially PMEs, I still hear of instances where workers are confronted with ageism. Although not rampant and good work has been done by TAFEP, I believe we can do more to not just minimise but eradicate all forms of ageism.

Source: ST

In some instances, employers must actively invest in rethinking how best to re-deploy their mature workers to fully leverage on their expertise.

In other instances, it may be imperative for employers to re-design the job and/or workplace to make the job easier, safer and smarter for our ageing workforce.

This can be achieved by embracing disruption, technology and innovation through re-creating jobs and building up a quality workforce so as to increase productivity and achieve inclusive quality growth.

Government

The government has funded and rolled out a series of initiatives and funding such as WorkPro including special employment credit and additional credits to support the hiring of mature and older workers.

I urge government to continue these schemes and fundings, especially those that are due to expire and even enhance them bearing in mind we are confronted with a silver tsunami.

I have previously raised in this House for the increase of the Employment Assistance Payment (EAP for short) and am glad that we will be seeing a positive adjustment in this respect.

EAP has to be regularly reviewed upwards to keep pace with rising median wages. EAP abuse must be closely watched and not become an easy tool or back-door exploited by employers as an easy way out to absolve themselves of their obligation to re-employ the workers.

I urge MOM to also pay a close watch at any cases of abuse or indiscriminate utilization of the new provision where employers can transfer the re-employment obligation to another employer and discharge themselves of responsibility.

This is especially so when the terms, conditions, environment and nature of work in the new job vastly differ from what they had been employed in.

Workers / Unions

Workers preparing for re-employment too have to continue to do their part to stay ready, relevant and resilient. Ready with new skills, relevant to the new jobs and also resilient to new changes.

 

Conclusion

Madam Speaker, I support the amendments but we need to rethink re-employment.

We must move away from re-employment for the sake of statutory compliance to people development, productivity growth and taking active steps to change stereotypical perceptions on age, talent, productivity and compensation in every organisation.

I want to make a special call for our tripartite partners to work closely together to ensure the spirit and intent of these amendments are executed well and thoroughly so as to achieve its desired outcomes.

More importantly, society plays the most crucial role in how we as one community and one country, view and treat older workers and embrace an ageing population. Not just acknowledging and accommodating the ageing workforce but proactively accepting and appreciating every worker regardless of age!

Mindsets of our tripartite partners as well as society need to change.

With that I support the Bill.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/patrick-tay/speech-in-parliament-2nd-reading-of-the-retirement-re-employment-amdt-bill-on-91/1191627390872340

[Speech] Parliament 2017 – Suggestions on the Mediation Bill

Singapore Mediation Patrick Tay

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT – 2ND READING OF THE MEDIATION BILL ON 9/1/17

Madam Speaker, I declare my interest as an Accredited Mediator with Singapore Mediation Centre. I rise in support of this Bill which seeks to promote, encourage and facilitate the resolution of disputes by mediation.

Singapore Mediation Patrick Tay
Source: Singapore Mediation Centre

I have two suggestions to make:

(i)​ Continual appraisal of accredited mediators

Singapore International Mediation Institute (SIMI for short) was incorporated in 2014 as a non-profit organisation supported by the Ministry of Law to set up professional standards for mediators further to the International Commercial Mediation Working Group’s recommendations to develop Singapore into a centre for international commercial mediation.

Based on the offerings stated on SIMI’s website, SIMI’s work is primarily focused on accrediting at the moment although it also states that it aims to apply and enforce world-class standards of mediation, to make tools available to parties to make basic decisions about mediation and to promote mediation education and awareness.

At the Singapore Mediation Lecture in 2013, Lord Woolf said that “There is a need for the continual appraisal of mediators who are accredited”.

Mediation has come a long way but it is still a journey.

The field now needs to evolve quickly into a true profession. High minimum practice and ethical standards need to be set, made transparent and achieved internationally.

Users of mediation need to see these standards operating effectively. More and better information needs to be made available by individual mediators about their skills, capabilities and personalities. Quality and transparency together will enable mediation to grow.

Mediators too need to be suitably recognized for their expertise and skills.

Clause 12 of the Mediation Bill allows the recording of a mediated settlement agreement as an order of Court with parties’ consent where the mediation is administered by a designated mediation service provider or conducted by a certified mediator and subject to other qualifying factors.

This facilitates the ease of enforcement of the mediation settlement agreement as parties currently have to commence legal proceedings to enforce the settlement agreement.

With the passing of the Mediation Bill and in light of Clause 12, there is now a greater need to set standards, increase transparency and ensure the continual appraisal of accredited mediators through professional bodies.

The professional bodies can also determine the threshold and where needed investigate into whether the mediation or mediator falls below the requisite standards.

This in turn gives credibility to the profession and builds confidence in using mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

Four justifications to support regulating mediators include:
(1) protecting the public from problematic mediators,
(2) providing information to the public about mediators,
(3) improving mediator ability and capabilities, and
(4) enhancing the credibility of the profession.
This is bearing in mind the limited number of accredited mediators and also the areas or topics of mediation work which is availed to enhance the experience and currency of their mediation work.

(ii)​ Grievance system to deal with complaints about Mediation/Mediators

With increased use of mediation, sooner or later, complaints against mediators may arise. Having a grievance system in place gives confidence to parties agreeing to resolve their dispute via mediation.

The grievance system will also complement the accreditation and/or possible self-regulation efforts of professional bodies to raise standards.

Having a professional body implement a grievance system to deal with complaints about mediators also enables better addressing of issues concerning the role of the mediator in mediation proceedings.

Madam Speaker, I hope Ministry of Law would consider these two suggestions. With that, I support the Bill.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/patrick-tay/speech-in-parliament-2nd-reading-of-the-mediation-bill-on-9117-by-mr-patrick-tay/1192246347477111

[Video] MP Patrick Tay on enhanced Professional Conversion Programme for PMETs

Singaporean jobs of the future

The Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) provides “more certainty, more avenues for PMETs to explore new opportunities” says Mr Patrick Tay, chairperson of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower.

Singaporean jobs of the future

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/specialreports/budget2017/videos/mp-patrick-tay-on-enhanced-professional-conversion-programme-for/3573282.html

Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP)

Professional Conversion Programmes help jobseekers reskill and acquire the necessary knowledge and competencies to take on new jobs. Some programmes include a work attachment, which enables individuals to acquire real experience in the field. This enhances the employability of jobseekers such as mid-career individuals, and gives them the necessary competencies to take on new jobs with greater confidence.Here is a list of positions offered by the PCPs:

Aerospace

Aircraft Maintenance Technician (Avionics)
Aircraft Maintenance Technician (Mechanical)
Engine Build Technician
Engine Repair and Overhaul Technician

Air Transport

Ground Operations Officer

Biologics and Pharmaceuticals

Development and Apprenticeship (DNA) Programme for Biologics Manufacturing
Development and Apprenticeship (DNA) Programme for Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing
Biologics Manufacturing Sector
Local Biologics Skills Training (BOOST) Programme
Biologics Overseas Skills Training (BOOST) Programme

Chemicals

DNA for Chemicals Manufacturing Sector
Chemicals Manufacturing Sector

Creative Industries

Work Mentorship Programme for the Creative Freelancers
Creative Industries
Furniture Designers
Animators

Early Childhood Care and Education

Pre-school Teachers

Eldercare Senior Services

Eldercare Professionals

Electronics / Assembly & Test

Assembly & Test Industry

Electronics / Wafer Fab

Wafer Fabrication Industry

Energy

Energy Management Sector

Food Services

Assistant Chef
Restaurant Manager

Healthcare

Diagnostic Radiographers
Enrolled Nurses
Occupational Therapists
Physiotherapists
Registered Nurses
Dental Surgery Assistants

Hotel, MICE and Tourism

Project Executive/Assistant Project Manager
Professional Executives (Hotel Industry)

Infocomm Technology

Business Intelligence Architect
Cyber Security Professional
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Specialist
IT/Desktop Support Administrator
IT System Administrator/Technical Support Engineer
Network Administrator
Software Developer Data Analyst
FullStack Developer

International Trade

International Trading Executive

Logistic

Logistics Industry

Manufacturing

Manufacturing Associate
Manufacturing Professional
Technical Sales Engineer/Manager

Marine

Marine Industry

Precision Engineering

Component OEM Engineer / Assistant Engineer
System Integrator
Complex Equipment Engineer / Assistant Engineer

Public Transport

Rail Professional

Retail

Retail Store Manager

Social Services

 

 

[Speech] MOM Committee of Supply Debate 2017 – Review of Labour Laws in Singapore

LOBBYING FOR REVIEW OF LABOUR LAWS IN SINGAPORE BY PATRICK TAY TECK GUAN, MP FOR WEST COAST GRC (BOON LAY)

SPEECH DURING MINISTRY OF MANPOWER’S COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY DEBATE 2017

Together with our tripartite partners, Ministry of Manpower has made major headways in the past five years, from amending the Employment Act and Industrial Relations Act to cater to the growing PME workforce, to introducing the Employment Claims Tribunal next month to provide adjudication for all workers for their salary related employment claims.

At the policy front, the Fair Consideration Framework and raising of Employment Pass salary criteria and other foreign manpower tightening measures have helped level the playing field for the local workforce. Enhancements to the Work Injury Compensation Act and Workplace Safety and Health Act have also been instituted to keep pace with wage changes and workplace accidents.

From a manpower perspective, there are several challenges for us with the first being rising structural forces/unemployment.

What has been a worrying trend is that the layoffs especially affect Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) and the slower rate of re-entry into workforce for this category of workers, especially those who are older in age.

This is largely due to what I have previously mooted/identified as the ‘three mis-matches of Skills, Expectations and Jobs’.

By the same token, we face the longer term challenge to sustain inclusive quality growth bearing in mind we have an ageing workforce, relatively flat productivity the past five years and a much slower employment growth.

With Globalisation, Uberisation, Digitisation, Robotisation and the 4th Industrial Revolution, the Future Jobs; Future Workforce; Future Skills; Future Training; Future Labour Market; and the Future of Work is rapidly evolving and transforming.

The new nature of the employment relationship; rising median wages; workforce profile change and diversity of work will require us to review our labour legislation to keep pace with the changes and the uncertain global outlook.

I am therefore suggesting for the Ministry of Manpower and our tripartite partners to continue its good work to carry out a review of the labour laws of Singapore – the Employment Act, Industrial Relations Act, Employment Claims Act and Trade Unions Act to keep pace with the changes.

(1) Employment Act

There are several provisions which I believe can be further enhanced and improved in the Employment Act and which the tripartite partners should examine to be relevant and inclusive.

(i) Whether there is a need to restrict the scope of the Employment Act to those earning less than $4500 as well as exclude civil servants from the ambit of the Act;

(ii) An oddly drafted Section 45 of the Employment Act which sets out the criteria of eligibility of retrenchment benefits, but is phrased as a negative eligibility clause.

The section can be appropriately worded to give more certainty to the payment of retrenchment benefits and leave the quantum to be negotiated just as it’s being done with collective bargaining.

Tripartite partners can also explore removing the two-year time bar, as shorter employment terms are more common now.

If removal is not possible, another possibility is to move this provision out of Part IV to the main body of the Act to be more inclusive since Part IV’s application is limited.

(iii) With an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions and organisational restructuring and reorganisation these days, we often face the challenge of whether a transfer falls squarely within the provisions of Section 18A of the Employment Act which allows for transfer of employees to a new entity without the need to pay retrenchment benefits.

I suggest we further improve Section 18A to provide more clarity. In particular, an inclusionary approach such as a clearer and narrower definition of what situations are covered under Section 18A would be a boon as the current provision is too broad and ambiguous.

The scope should be limited to a sale of business. We should clarify that outsourcing is not covered. By the same token, transfers involving companies under receivership or judicial management should also be covered.

Furthermore, a minimum notice period (of at least one month) should be stipulated and that the notice should be in writing. To prevent multiple transfers, we should prohibit the transfer of the same group of employees for a period of one year after the first or subsequent transfers.

Higher penalties specific to Section 18A should also be introduced and the union should be entitled to continue providing limited representation for up to two years so that PMEs don’t lose protection.

(2) Industrial Relations Act

In the course of representing unions and union members in the Industrial Arbitration Court and advising unions on industrial relations issues, I have come across a number of situations in which the Industrial Relations Act does not envisage nor clearly address. I will just confine them to two areas for now.

(i) Status of Collective Agreement (CA) during a Judicial Management/Receivership leave of Court

Other than having to formally apply for a leave of Court, there is limited scope for us to enforce a collective agreement or have recourse in the event of any non-compliance of the CA.

I opine that the CA should continue to apply so as to protect the workers and there must also be an avenue for the union to enforce the CA during this moratorium in an economical and expeditious manner.

(ii) Expanding Tripartite Mediation Framework

Tripartite Mediation is a very useful tripartite mechanism for alternative dispute resolution. It is also tightly linked to the Employment Claims Tribunal as claims limits are raised if one goes via the tripartite mediation route.

Although there is no salary cap, PMEs in certain categories where they are in management roles or where there may be conflict of interests as provided in the Act are excluded from utilising tripartite mediation. I submit we should review this prohibition.

We should also explore extending tripartite mediation to cover unfair dismissals of those outside the scope of the Employment Act.

(3) Employment Claims Act

I am delighted that the Employment Claims Tribunal will come into operation next month. The Employment Claims Act currently covers all workers in an employment relationship but limited to 18 contractual and 43 statutory types of salary-related claims.

With greater complexity in the terms and conditions of work as well as cases of unfair termination of contract where workers especially PMEs are just given notice pay and told to leave the company, I hope the Act can keep pace with the developments and address some of these issues which may not be salary related.

(4) Trade Unions Act

In light of an expected growth of freelance workers or what many call the ‘gig economy’ in the next 5-10 years, the Labour Movement hopes more can become union members and enjoy the plethora of membership privileges NTUC and our unions offer.

At present, the Trade Unions Act requires a person to be in a ‘contract of service’ to join a trade union. Freelancers who are in a ‘contract for service’ may not be full fledged union members per se.

As such, I suggest MOM to form a workgroup to study this carefully and remove or relax the prohibition and explore ways to allow freelancers to be union members without compromising or contravening traditional collective bargaining and representation.

In conclusion, the above are my thoughts and suggestions based on the issues that confront us currently and which we need to address to ensure our labour laws are not just relevant but future-ready.

The review cannot be done in silos, and in the spirit of tripartism, I ask for our tripartite partners to review and examine carefully and further strengthen our tripartite relationship in the course of doing so by bringing even more workers and companies within our fold.

Posted by Patrick Tay on Sunday, March 5, 2017

[Speech] Budget Debate 2017 – Future Jobs, Skills and Training

Future Jobs, Skills and Training

Future Jobs, Skills and Training

Madam Speaker, this Budget comes at a time when a myriad of challenges are confronting Singapore.

Globally, there are uncertainties, consolidation and key developments. This is fuelled by:

(i) oil prices,

(ii) USA’s political and economic agenda;

(iii) the future direction of the European Union;

(iv) the Brexit journey and

(v) Asia’s growth strategy (in particular China).

 

5 threats to Singapore jobs and economy

Credit – Vulcan Post

The developments in each will have effects (whether direct or collateral) on economic conditions across the globe and on Singapore.

Locally, Budget 2017 and beyond will have to achieve a balance to address the short-term and long-term needs and challenges of the economy and our working populace.

For a start, I am glad the overall Budget has a slight surplus to cater to any uncertainties and exigencies in this financial year and which may impact Singapore and for which we need to respond to.

From a manpower perspective, there are several challenges for us, I dare say not exhaustive, with the first being rising structural forces/unemployment.

We saw a record 19,000 layoffs in 2016 since 2009.

What has been a worrying trend is that the layoffs especially affect Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) and the slower rate of re-entry into the workforce for this category of workers, especially those who are older in age.

This is largely due to what I have previously mooted/identified as the three mis-matches of Skills, Expectations and Jobs.

There is also the phenomenon of what I call the ‘slow-burn’ or ‘churn’ in several sectors (fortunately not across the board yet) of our local economy such as in the oil and gas; offshore and marine; foreign financial institutions; and retail because of global uncertainties; re-strategisation; consolidation; re-calibration; and advent of digitisation, robotisation, mechanisation and the Internet of Things.

By the same token, we face the longer term challenge and need of sustaining inclusive quality growth bearing in mind we have an ageing workforce, relatively flat productivity the past five years and a much slower employment growth in the years ahead.

Productivity Singapore

Credit: MOF and ST

Having heard the Budget and its initiatives fleshed out, I am glad that the government has considered and adopted several of the key recommendations by the Labour Movement.

However, all said and done, I submit that the execution and implementation or what I call the “follow-through” of each of the initiatives and programme is most crucial.

In response to Budget 2017’s plans and programmes, I have five suggestions and recommendations in the area of Future Jobs, Future Skills and Future Training with a particular focus on the plight of Professionals, Managers and Executives as they are most vulnerable and sandwiched during these times of uncertainty and structural challenges.

(i) Future Jobs – Realistic Industry Transformation Maps

I am glad we are rolling out Industry Transformation Maps for 23 industry clusters and sectors. In the course of working out the blueprint, each sector and industry has painted an optimistic future of the new jobs and the jobs growth in each sector.

ICT sector and Healthcare sectors have highlighted there will be 30,000 jobs each.

We also need 3,000 precision engineers, 1,000 rail engineers and 22,000 data scientists and robot coordinators in the manufacturing sector by 2024. There is also a need for 4,000 early childhood educators.

All these sectoral manpower plans paint an extremely optimistic picture of the jobs market. I am not sure if there are duplication in the numbers as there may be overlaps such as between ICT and Financial Sector when we talk of data science, analytics or cybersecurity.

To the person unemployed or retrenched, all these figures mean little to him or her if he or she can’t find a job in any of these sectors.

It is therefore imperative to paint a realistic picture of the jobs market by identifying and sharing where the jobs really are, which companies are hiring and when are they doing so, also, what skills and experience are required of these job openings and what training must we embark on to prepare ourselves for these future jobs.

It is therefore vital for the tripartite partners to work together with the IHLs, industry partners and stakeholders as well as research and consultancy companies to better sense, synthesise and provide a clear signal so as to not just place the current unemployed into current jobs but the future unemployed into future jobs.

Future Jobs, Skills and Training

Credit – Vulcan Post

To this end, the labour movement has started looking into Future Jobs, Skills and Training and getting help and support from our extensive labour movement network, tripartite partners and various stakeholder and partners.

(ii) Future Jobs – Internationalisation and Assimilation Back into Singapore

Even as we drive internationalisation and encourage Singapore companies and Singaporeans to venture abroad and be regional and global, it is important that we provide sufficient support and assistance to those who have spent overseas stints to assimilate and find jobs back in Singapore when they return.

My biggest worry is how are these Singaporeans who have gone abroad, able to adjust and adapt when they return back to Singapore in the future.

I say this because I have met PMEs at NTUC’s U PME Centre including classmates of mine who have returned to Singapore after spending some eight to 16 years abroad.

Many have returned due to family commitments such as because of elderly parents or children’s education or to really come back home.

One such example is a PME in his 50s who has been working for a European MNC in the Oil & Gas sector for 20 years in the area of Project Management. He was retrenched and was out of job for a year before finally landing a job as a project manager based in Saudi Arabia.

I know some who have been back for more than a year and still have not found any jobs despite lowering salary expectations. Some have resorted to doing freelance work or short–term contract positions.

This is an area we need to pay particular attention to and I hope the enhancements to Adapt and Grow and the many SkillsFuture initiatives to be announced will address this problem.

(iii) Future Skills – Digitisation and In-demand Skills

All the talk on Digitisation, The Digital Divide and Disruption is good but what does it mean to the layman or worker? What does he need to do to stay ready, relevant and resilient?

I therefore suggest we come up with a Digital Disruption awareness/development programme for all workers, all Singaporeans similar to the Best-WISE training we had in the 80s and 90s where we had to bring all Singaporeans and workers ahead in terms of literacy and numeracy.

The Future Jobs in Demand and Future Skills in Demand component can be built into this programme to ensure all Singaporeans stay able, adaptable and agile.

This programme can be spearheaded by the Labour Movement’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) and NTUC Learning Hub and supported via government funding.

(iv) Future Training – Top-Up SkillsFuture Credits Every Three to Five Years & Usage for Hiring of Career Coach

The SkillsFuture Credit utilisation has been promising and off to a good start. I have met workers who have shared how they have benefitted immensely from picking up new skills via tapping on their SkillsFuture Credits.

With the rapidly volatile business environment and job obsolescence, workers globally are now concerned that their skills are losing relevance or what I call the “Fear of Skills Erosion”.

To address this, I suggest for the government to provide SkillsFuture Credit top-ups of $500 in intervals of every three to five years so as to encourage Singaporeans to take personal responsibility in their continuing education and training, embrace a spirit of lifelong learning and stay ready, relevant and resilient.

The credits can go a long way to not just skills acquisition but should also include engaging professional career coach services.

Government help Singaporean get jobs

Credit – Vulcan Post

(v) Future Training – Flexibility and Responsiveness / Skills & Job Adjacency

The budget has announced proposed enhancements to Adapt and Grow funding including the “Attach and Learn” programme which I welcome and look forward to hear more on during the Manpower COS.

However, I hope as we execute the various funding, we must bear in mind the need to be flexible, responsive (in terms of speed to market) and also cater to all segments of the workforce from low wage workers to PMEs.

With about 70 per cent of those laid off last year being PMETs, I submit that we need to pay particular attention to this group and especially those who are long-term unemployed and mature PMEs.

I am glad that the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP for short), now supports re-deployment of PMEs within the company.

However, one particular observation I have with the PCP is that when PMEs move into a new sector or totally new job, he/she enters at the entry point of that new sector or job.

I find this is sometimes unsatisfactory considering many mature PMEs have accumulated one to as much as three decades of work experience and that their other innate skills are not taken cognizance of.

skills in singapore

Credit – Vulcan Post

At our U PME Centre, we observed many PMEs would prefer to stay within their industries where possible or at the most move across into any industry but utilising their set of skills and experience.

There is strong inertia from many PMEs to explore new industries due to the high opportunity cost.

It is with this mind that I hope the government can look into helping PMEs transit into second careers more seamlessly by exploring the adjacency of jobs and the adjacency of skills so that these PMEs can move into, move across or move up into new roles which capitalise on their acquired skills and knowledge so that they can even enter mid-career and be given credits for their experience.

The public sector has successfully done this for certain job types and I suggest we replicate this for other sectors and companies.
Madam Speaker in Chinese.

针对2017年新加坡财政预算案所推出的各项计划,如何实施才是关键。我有5项建议:

 (i)未来工作 – 可实施的产业转型蓝图

第一,我们的首要任务是确定机遇何在; 哪些公司正在招聘, 这些职位又需要什么技能、经验或培训,好让我们更好地帮助我国工友为这些未来工作做好准备。为此,劳资政须与高等院校,行业伙伴、利益相关者以及研究或咨询公司进行更紧密地合作, 搜集所需的资料, 从而帮助目前失业的工友顺利入职,也协助将被淘汰的工友们,为未来工作做好准备。

(ii) 未来工作 – 推动国际化的同时,确保工友能够重新回归我国工作队伍

即使我国正在推动国际化,鼓励我国企业与国人到海外工作,获得海外经验,同时重要的是如何为那些。重返新加坡的国人提供足够的支持和援助,协助他们重新回归我国工作队伍并尽快就业。

 (iii) 未来工作 – 科技化与必备技能

我也建议推出一项数码科技发展课程,帮助国人通过数码科技提高技能。此计划可类似于我们在80年代和90年代所推出的技能证照训练课程。

(iv) 未来培训 – 每三到五年补充技能创前程培训补助金额,并扩展其用途

我也建议政府每三到五年提供500元的 技能创前程培训补助金额补充,鼓励国人掌握自身的职业发展和拥抱终身学习精神,从而保持与时具进。另外,也建议扩大金额的应用,是否能够包括聘请专业职业教练的服务。

(v)未来培训 – 保持灵活性及敏捷性、发展相关技能与工作

在实施并推出各类计划的同时,我们必须考虑到如何照顾到工作队伍中的各种工友,包括低薪工友及PME。另外,我希望政府能够探讨如何帮助PME工友掌握相关工作和相近技能,使他们能够顺利进入第二职业。

Conclusion

The challenge for Singapore in 2017 and beyond is how we are able to navigate the occasional gusty winds and flooding downpours.

Although we have weathered a variety of economic calamities the past decade alone, it does not mean we will automatically survive. The challenge that confronts us this decade will be somewhat different and diverse.

The ‘killer app’ is how we can, as one country and one people stay not just ready, relevant and resilient but have the necessary agility, ability and adaptability to navigate and ride on the ebb and flow.

Singapore prepare for future

Credit – Vulcan Post

We have always been on a treadmill, only difference is the speed at which the treadmill is now moving as compared to years ago.

With that, I support the motion.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/patrick-tay/speech-during-budget-debate-2017-by-patrick-tay-teck-guan-mp-for-west-coast-grc-/1244884988879913

[Speech] Merchant Shipping Act and the Stranded Hanjin Crew

Hanjin

SPEECH DURING THE 2ND READING OF THE MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT (AMDT) BILL

Mdm Speaker, I rise in support of the Bill. However, I wish to raise two issues with regards to this Bill. First,

A) Whether the financial security system provides abandoned seafarers with direct access, sufficient coverage and expedited financial assistance?

The amendments have treated the abandonment scenarios envisioned in the MLC amendments as scenarios where shipowners are required to repatriate the seafarer. I have several questions.

Do the amendments allow the seafarer to tap on the contract of insurance or financial security to “provide direct access, sufficient coverage and expedited financial assistance” in scenarios of abandonment as envisioned by the amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention?

Hanjin
Source: Moon Kwon-Do/BBC

Can the contract of insurance be tapped on to pay for “necessary maintenance and support” of the seafarer (e.g. adequate food, accommodation, drinking water supplies, essential fuel for survival on board the ship and necessary medical care) when the seafarer has not been provided with such necessary maintenance and support by the shipowner?

and

Can the contract of insurance be tapped on to pay outstanding wages to the seafarer when the seafarer has not been paid wages for more than 2 months?

Second,

B) Whether it is possible for seafarers to tap on the contract of insurance or financial security when ship has been arrested or where the shipowner is under receivership?

The Shipping industry has been squeezed on both the supply and demand sides: too many vessels, not enough scrapped, while global trade has slowed down. The Baltic Dry index, a measure of freight rates for bulk carriers that carry commodities like coal and iron ore, has plummeted by 95% since its peak in 2008.

Even oil tankers are suffering. Container lines are now also in particularly bad shape.

Sending a container from Shanghai to Europe costs half what it did in 2014, according to figures from the Chinese city’s shipping exchange. More ship owners are expected to run into difficulties.

For example, the stranded crew of Hanjin Rome, owned by the bankrupt Hanjin Shipping Company – had sat off the eastern coast of Singapore. The vessel was placed under court arrest here on Aug 29 after German ship owner Rickmers filed a civil claim for money it says it is owed by Hanjin.

Source: NTUC This Week

According to the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore, once a ship is arrested, anything that enters or leaves the ship has to be approved by the Supreme Court, including change of crew.

Crew members would have to apply for permission from the Supreme Court to be repatriated.

In an arrested ship, at least half the number of officers, engineers and crew (or watchmen/security guards) must be onboard at all times to meet the minimum manning requirement.

In the case where the ship has been arrested and where seafarers on board have not been provided “necessary maintenance and support (including adequate food, accommodation, drinking water supplies, essential fuel for survival on board the ship and necessary medical care)”, would the seafarers be able to tap on the financial security system to seek financial assistance in this regard?

In the case where a ship owner is in receivership and has not paid its seafarers wages for more than 2 months, would the seafarers be able to tap on the financial security system to seek financial assistance in this regard?

Thank you.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/patrick-tay/speech-during-the-2nd-reading-of-the-merchant-shipping-act-amdt-bill-by-mr-patri/1126659850702428

[Speech] Privacy and Security Concerns Over ICA’s Iris Scans and Biometric Data

Iris scan ica

SPEECH DURING THE 2ND READING OF THE NATIONAL REGISTRATION (AMDT) BILL

Mdm Speaker, I rise to support this Amendment Bill. This Bill seeks to amend the Act to expand types of personal identifiers of persons registered or required to be registered under the Act that may be collected by ICA.

Although I support the Bill, I wish to highlight the need for robust and stronger safeguards with respect to privacy and security arising from the collection of biometric data.

The collection of iris scans from Singaporean citizens and permanent residents could begin as early as next year according to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) as an extra personal identifier, besides photographs and fingerprints.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) says that iris scanning is “a proven technology” that is “convenient, contactless and non-intrusive”. I join members who spoke earlier the concerns on both of counts of privacy and security.

Privacy Concern

As scanning of irises are contactless and non-intrusive, the technology could potentially scan irises covertly as opposed to the scanning of thumb prints which requires active participation of the person being identified.

Iris scan technology can be taken from as far as 12 metres away according to scientific sources highlighted publicly. These developments are perceived as Orwellian because they allow iris cameras to be unseen, and to operate in a non-consensual surveillance mode.

Iris scan ica
Source: OpenGov Asia

Security Concern

Once an iris becomes a digital file, that file will need to be adequately protected against attack. Systems can be hacked, biometric identifiers could be stolen and misused.

What are the safeguards which have been and will be put in place to address these privacy and security concerns in collecting biometric data such as iris scans? How will these safeguards be communicated to the public to allay concerns?

New NRICs with Updated Photographs

On a different note and point but also on National Registration Identification system. I have raised previously as a PQ earlier this year but reiterate again the need for ICA to renew and re-issue our NRICs again during the later years of our life and at selected intervals because the pictures on the NRIC may be outdated and inaccurate.

I urge ICA to do this and at no cost impact to Singaporeans. This updating exercise will also help in the iris scan roll-out.

Thank you.

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[Speech] Child Development Co-Savings Act – Better Protection, Support and Benefits to Parents

losing job

SPEECH DURING THE 2ND READING OF THE CHILD DEVT CO-SAVINGS (AMDT 2) BILL

Lobbying for :
(1) Strengthening Maternity Protection
(2) Strengthening Support to SAHMs
(3) Extending Benefits to Unwed Fathers and Foster Parents

Mdm Speaker, I rise in support of this Bill and welcome the enhancements as it is a move in the right direction to support shared parenting.

Child Development Co Savings Act 2016
Source: MSF

However, I urge that we pay attention to the consumption rate of paternity leave as only 40% of fathers used their 1 week paternity leave in 2015. More needs to be done to help young fathers overcome mindset and workplace constraints to improve consumption rate.

Besides enhancing leave schemes for young parents, Government should consider caregivers of elderly and other dependents as well. It is suggested that we allow flexing of medical leave provided under Employment Act for caregiving needs.

Caregiver survey
Source: NTUC U Family

I have four points to make, in the areas of unwed fathers; maternity protection; Stay-At-Home-Mums; and foster parents.

1. Unwed Fathers

Enhancements has been made to grant fathers of adoptive children the 2 weeks of Paternity Leave, and while unwed mothers are now entitled to full maternity leave of 16 weeks, are there considerations made to allow unwed fathers to enjoy the same?

While they may be few but due to circumstances, there may be fathers who have to bear the responsibility of caring for the infant in the absence of the baby’s mother.

2. Maternity Protection

Female employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave are protected by law from being dismissed or retrenched. Can the protection be extended beyond pregnancy and maternity leave period so as to give security and assurance to mothers who return to work after childbirth?

The transition back to work after maternity leave ends is not an easy period as they learn to cope with balancing demands of work and needs of their babies.

While they were away, their jobs may have been re-allocated by employers and upon their return these mothers may face possibilities of re-deployment or even redundancy.

losing job
Source: Vulcan Post

As a result these mothers may eventually be out of the workforce whether by choice or not and it becomes a lose-lose situation for the mothers and economy.

The ILO Maternity Protection Convention No.183 states that: “The standard also prohibits employers to terminate the employment of a woman during pregnancy or absence on maternity leave, or during a period following her return to work, except on grounds unrelated to pregnancy, childbirth and its consequences, or nursing. Women returning to work must be returned to the same position or an equivalent position paid at the same rate.”

3. Stay-At-Home Mothers

Studies have shown that women choose to leave the workforce mainly due to family commitments and whether they are raising children or caring for elderly dependents, their contribution is invaluable to our society and nation’s development.

Source: AIA

However the work that these women are doing goes unpaid and they are relying on financial resources of their spouses, loved ones alone. Without financial independence, their retirement adequacy is questionable.

mum retirement plans
Source: AIA

Hence it should be a priority to provide support and interventions to help these women in securing their retirement.

i. Transit PME women Back-to-Work

As educational standards of workforce rises and women choosing to have children later, more and more who leave the workforce are PMEs in mid-career.

This lost to the talent pool can be mitigated by enabling seamless transition of these women back to work. While many of their skills may have become outdated or irrelevant in the many years when they were at home, these PME women do possess skills and experience which can be transferable to new jobs.

Various Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) targeted at mid-career PMEs can be enhanced to make the jobs more attractive to back-to-work PME women in terms of pay, career prospects and flexibility in work arrangements. At the same time, improving on the delivery mode for training and duration will entice more to make the commitment to embark on PCP.

Besides the Career Support Programme (CSP) and PCP, to give confidence to these women and also potential employers, I suggest the introduction of a “Returnship Programme” spanning 4 to 6 months to facilitate the matching of women jobseekers and employers.

During the Returnship period, women jobseekers are given guidance and training to update her skills, better understand the job and ascertain her suitability for the position.

Upon successful completion of Returnship, women jobseeker can embark on PCP for further training to make the career switch. This can be done through an enhancement of the current PCP and CSP.

ii. Income Supplement

Besides granting CPF Cash Top Up Relief to encourage spouses and loved ones to voluntarily contribute to the CPF accounts of these stay-at-home mothers, the government should recognise the value of the unpaid work done by these women. Can government also regularly top up the CPF accounts of these mothers directly?

On the Workfare Scheme, can mothers who are younger than 35 years old and spouse has higher than $70,000 assessable income who engage in part-time, temporary or freelance jobs be entitled to cash supplement, CPF contributions and training grant too?

This is to encourage mothers to stay in connection with the job market and keep their skills updated while they are away. Thus, making the transition back to workforce in future an easier and smoother one.

4. Extension of childcare leave to foster parents?

Expansion of leave to single parents and adoptive parents is laudable, perhaps timely to also consider extension of child care leave to foster parents fostering young children so that they can spend time helping the foster children to settle into their new home.

The Fostering Scheme under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) provides care arrangements for children who have been abandoned, neglected or ill-treated by their parents or guardians, or those whose parents or guardians are in ill-health and, therefore, unable to look after them.

Thank you.

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