After a string of bankruptcies, starting with the insolvent shipbuilding subsidiary MV Werften, then to Genting Hong Kong and Dream Cruises, the “trickle-down” effect that economists preach has now reached the employees.
Actually, that’s not how the trickle-down effect is meant to be used, but that’s beside the point.
According to what The Strait Times has gathered, at least 60 employees from Genting Hong Kong’s Singapore office were retrenched after the Asian cruise giant had to file a wind-up petition and go into compulsory liquidation.
The number makes up more than half the staff at the Genting Hong Kong Singapore office.
To put it in simpler terms, Genting Hongkong has officially gone bankrupt, and now they’re in the process of salvaging what they can from business.
However, things are looking a little grim, especially considering how their entire chain of supply fell like dominoes, to the extent where they are letting go of more than half of their employees.
Even corporate giants are not infallible to illness and disease, huh.
Employees Retrenched in Batches
Thus far, more than half of the employees at the Singapore office have been let go.
Most of the affected employees were either Singaporeans or Permanent Residents (PRs).
The interviewed affected employees chose not to be identified, but they revealed that the layoffs had started around January, going by batches.
The fourth batch received their employment termination via e-mail this week, and they were told to return to the office to return the company property.
One of the affected employees that was interviewed outside the office stated that the employees had begun preparing themselves for the worst when they read the news about the company’s wind-up petitions.
Furthermore, since the layoffs had been done in phases, they knew what was going to inevitably happen to them.
Ergo, they were going down the sinking ship business.
No Retrenchment Benefits
Unfortunately, none of the employees were given any retrenchment benefits.
Some stated that they weren’t owed any wages, others said that Genting Hong Kong still owed them prorated salary and compensation for unused leave days.
Naturally, no one was happy with the sudden layoffs and lack of retrenchment benefits since it felt like the company was throwing them into the deep sea, expecting that they could survive since they knew how to swim.
One employee was both surprised and betrayed. As someone who has worked for Genting Hong Kong for more than five years, he expected some form of compensation at least for his long-standing loyalty.
The man deserves a pat on the back, to be honest.
Alas, there are no unions formed within Genting Hong Kong and Dream Cruises.
For Singapore, even though it is the industry norm to pay an employee a reasonable sum upon their departure, typically calculated two weeks or one month of salary per year, such terms are dependent on the company’s financial situation.
As TSMP Law Corporation Head of Employment, Mr Ian Lim, aptly summarises, it is not “statutorily required” for employees to give retrenchment benefits to their employees, unless it was explicitly stated in their contract.
Either that, or unionised companies would have an agreed consensus that paying retrenchment benefits to the eligible employees is a contractual obligation.
Some Help for the Affected
Thankfully, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) has stepped in to help the affected employees through the Tourism Careers Hub.
According to Chief Executive Caryn Lim, she said: “NTUC’s e2i has been providing employment facilitation support, including career coaching and job matching services for all affected local workers.”
The provided assistance includes helping workers with their resume and interview skills to ease their job transitions.
Ms Lim also asserts that companies are encouraged to follow the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment, which among other things, suggests:
- Employers should communicate with their employees before the Mandatory Retrenchment Notifications are given, to mentally prepare the employees for the eventuality.
- Employers should try to pay a reasonable sum to the affected employees, depending on their financial circumstances at that point in time.
- Employers should go beyond an advisory capacity and try to place affected employees in their next jobs with the help of intermediaries.
- Provision of supporting documentation like referral letters, service records and training records can also help facilitate job transition.
- If possible, employers can consider providing a training package post-retrenchment, which can be organised through external trainer providers like NTUC LearningHub.
Judging from the number of guidelines and advisories the Ministry of Manpower has, it can be assumed that it is strongly encouraged for companies to pay their affected workers retrenchment benefits.
Which, in a way, is indirectly saying that Genting Hong Kong isn’t the best employer I suppose?
Two-star review on Indeed and MyCareerFuture, but only because the affected employee might be feeling nice on the day of writing.
As a matter of fact, employees are allowed to complain if such benefits are not given, especially since the practice has become quite common during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Although the guidelines make exceptions for employees that have worked for less than two years, and employers in financial straits, they are still encouraged to provide an ex-gratia sum (termination payment).
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Featured Image: Shutterstock / EQRoy
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