Industrial Relations Legislation and its Practical Applications

Learning Overview

On 3 November 2014, the Singapore Parliament introduced amendments to the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) to allow greater trade union representation for Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs), except those with specific responsibilities. In addition, on 26 November 2014, the tripartite partners namely the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) issued guidelines for both employers and unions on the scope of union representation for executives and also the expansion on the scope of limited representation for executives. MOM subsequently announced that the amendments to the IRA will likely be effective 1 April 2015.

Notwithstanding the above, the Employment Act was amended effective 1 April 2014 to cover PMEs who earn a monthly basic salary of $4,500 and below. Also, on 1 February 2011 amendments to the IRA were brought into force in Singapore. Among the amendments is the establishment of a new scheme for the mediation of certain disputes involving PMEs and their employers. These PMEs (provided they fall within the basic salary of not more than $4,500) may elect to refer disputes to mediation conducted by a conciliation officer as appointed by the Commissioner of Labour.
What would be the significance of all the above amendments of the Employment Act and the IRA come 1 April 2015 and its bearing on unionised and non-unionised companies?

In response to the above question, Human Resource Practitioners need to be familiar with the industrial relations legislation which includes the IRA, Trade Disputes Act, Trade Unions Act and the Criminal Law Temporary Provisions Act. You will learn that the legislation provides a system of voluntary and compulsory bargaining, conciliation services by the MOM and ultimately the adjudication by the Industrial Arbitration Court. Having grasped the understanding of these legislations, ultimately the aim of HR practitioners is to collectively bargain with the trade union to achieve a win-win settlement which would include the annual increment and variable bonus which are negotiable issues in the eyes of the legislation.

At the end this workshop, delegates can be assured that they will be more competent in their understanding of the Industrial Relations system and its practical application especially in collective bargaining.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the Industrial Relations legislation namely Industrial Relations Act((RA), Trade Disputes Act, Trade Unions Act, Criminal Law Temporary Provisions.
  • Understand how trade union seeks trade union recognition.
  • Know the types of Unions and the differentiation between ordinary members and general branch membership.
  • Understand how Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) can be covered under limited representation as per section 30A of the IRA.
  • Know under what circumstances PMEs cannot be covered under limited representation as per section 30A(2) of the IRA.
  • Understand how general branch member who are PMEs can be covered under the tripartite dispute resolution under section 30F of the IRA;
  • Understand the bearing of the amendments to the Employment Act on 1 April 2014 and its impact on the IRA;
  • Understand sections 17(2), 30A(1) and 30A(2) of the IRA which concern individual representation of executive and managerial employees in rank-and-file trade unions
  • Know what are the impending changes to the IRA in view of Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill which was released on 3 November 2014.
  • Understand the influence, concern and impact of trade unions on business and human resource management practices of companies.
  • Understand the role and due process of collective bargaining in the Singapore industrial relations system.
  • Drafting win-win collective agreements between management and trade union.

Learning Outline

A competent HR practitioner must have the knowledge and skills in the following:

Overview and perspective of the Industrial Relations system in Singapore.

  • Difference between employee relations and industrial relations.
  • Labour relations framework and its policies.
  • The tripartite partners namely Ministry of Manpower(MOM), National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employer Federation (SNEF).

Ministry of Manpower and Industrial Arbitration Court (IAC)

  • The system of conciliation services with the MOM.
  • The system of voluntary and compulsory arbitration at the IAC ie ex-parte application, joint application, direction by the Minister and proclamation by   the President.
  • Understand the mechanism on how Conciliation Officers resolve trade disputes.
  • Evaluate the dispute settlement mechanism provided by MOM and IAC.
  • Know that the conciliation services of MOM and the IAC are set up to deal with the conflicts between the employers and trade unions.

Formation of a Trade Union

  • Background and development of trade union.
  • Objectives and types of trade unions.
  • Constitution of a trade union and its application to executive unions and rank and file unions.
  • Registrar of Trade Unions.

Trade Union Recognition

  • Procedures for trade union recognition.
  • Voluntary recognition versus secret ballot
  • Procedures for conducting the secret ballot.
  • Role of MOM.
  • Differentiation between ordinary members and general branch members.
  • Weigh the pros and cons in giving outright trade union recognition.
  • Evaluate why trade union would rather not proceed with trade union recognition of a company and in exchange for the company to pay for all employees under general branch membership.

Employment Act

  • Definition of employee.
  • Coverage of employees under the Employment Act.
  • Differences between statutory law employee and common law employee.

Industrial Relations Act (IRA)

  • Understand what is management prerogative and what is negotiable issue.
  • Understand how PMEs can be covered under limited representation as per section 30A of the IRA.
  • Know under what circumstances PMEs cannot be covered under limited representation as per section 30A(2) of the Industrial Relations Act.
  • Understand how general branch member who are PMEs can be covered under the tripartite dispute resolution under section 30F of the IRA.
  • Understand the bearing of the amendments to the Employment Act on 1 April 2014 and its impact on the IRA;
  • Understand sections 17(2), 30A(1) and 30A(2) of the IRA which concern individual representation of executive and managerial employees in rank-and-file trade unions.
  • Know what are the impending change to the IRA in view of Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill which was released on 3 November 2014.

Trade Unions Act (TUA)

  • Understand the background and development of trade unions.
  • Know the purpose of TUA.
  • Know the role of the Registrar of trade union.
  • Understand the structure of trade union.
  • Know the requirements as set out in the TUA in registering trade unions.
  • Understand the objectives of trade unions.
  • Know the different types of trade unions.
  • Know that a company may have two types of trade unions, namely executive union and rank-and-file union.
  • Evaluate the difference between general branch membership under NTUC and ordinary membership which is under the trade union of the company.

Trade Disputes Act (TDA)

  • Grievance procedures as outlined in CA.
  • Understand the definition of industrial actions as set out in TUA.
  • Understand the definition of industrial actions as set out in TDA.
  • Conciliation services provided by MOM.
  • Tripartite dispute resolution
  • Adjudication by the IAC.
  • Know how trade disputes such as strikes, lockouts and picketing are governed under the TDA.

Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act (CLTPA)

  • Know what constitutes essential services under CLTPA.
  • Understand that under no circumstances can trade unions pursue industrial actions for essential services, such as water, gas, and electricity.
  • Know what are the other semi-essential services under CLTPA.

Industrial Relations Action

  • Definition of industrial action.
  • Types or forms of industrial action ie strike, lock-out, picketing, go-slow, etc.
  • Prohibition of industrial action.
  • Tort action and immunity from legal suit.
  • Employees pursuing industrial action in non-unionised companies.
  • Non-union members pursuing industrial action in unionised companies.

Collective Bargaining

  • Understand the difference between collective bargaining in the private sector and the public sector.
  • Know the application of the statutes in particular to IRA in relation to collective bargaining;
  • Management’s prerogative versus negotiable issues under IRA.
  • The purpose of memorandum of understanding.
  • Annual increment and variable bonuses.
  • Refusal to collective bargain by the employer for lack of majority union members.

Collective Agreement (CA)

  • The contents and the bearing or interpretation of clauses in the CA.
  • The scope of representation of employees in CA.
  • Drafting or formulating clauses for CA.
  • Terms and conditions applicable to union members or non-union members?\
  • Tripartite guidelines and its application to CA.
  • Process of certification by the IAC.\
  • Duration of CA, retrospection or backdating, continuity upon expiry of CA.
  • Merger and acquisition, transfer or sale of shares, and whether CA continues with the successors.

Methodologies

Lecture and case study.

Who should attend?

Human Resource Practitioners, Industrial Relations Practitioners, Lawyers, In-House Legal Counsels, Line Managers/Executives and any other persons interested in grasping a good understanding of the Employment Act.

Note:

  • SDF Grant is Available*
  • SHRI co-offers these programmes with HR Law Academy and SDF funding is applicable under HR Law Academy as the course provider. Details will be provided upon registration.
Schedule Dates Duration Non-Member  
1 Mar 2017 1 Day (7 hours)
(9am – 5pm)
S$450.00 Registration
4 Apr 2017 1 Day (7 hours)
(9am – 5pm)
S$450.00 Registration
31 May 2017 1 Day (7 hours)
(9am – 5pm)
S$450.00 Registration

All prices listed here are subject to the prevailing GST charges. All information on this page is correct at the time of its publication. SHRI reserves the right to amend any of the above information if necessary.

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