DFS Group probed by TAFEP over retrenchment exercise involving 60 staff

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) is currently looking into the manner in which DFS Group carried out its retrenchment exercise. DFS Group recently underwent a retrenchment exercise, a month after ending its 40-year liquor and tobacco partnership with Changi Airport Group (CAG).

According to a CNA article, approximately 60 workers were let go immediately. However, a month ago, a DFS spokesperson told Marketing that around 500 staff are directly employed to service DFS’ liquor and tobacco concession operations at Changi Airport and that there will options available for these staff. The spokesperson added that deployment opportunities at DFS’ luxury concessions at Changi, downtown operations at T Galleria by DFS Singapore, and business at the Singapore Cruise Center will also be offered to staff. DFS Group has yet to respond to Marketing's queries on its marketing team's cuts.

In a statement to Marketing from Ministry of Manpower and TAFEP, the Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation said it is in contact with DFS about the retrenchment exercise and Workforce Singapore will offer employment assistance services to the affected workers. TAFEP said that companies are expected to adhere to the “Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment” to help implement retrenchment exercise responsibly and sensitively. "We urge companies to pay the prevailing norm for retrenchment benefits, unless they are financially unable to do so," the statement read.

In addition, the Taskforce statement said that companies considering retrenchment are encouraged to give prior notification to the Taskforce, as early notification will enable the Taskforce to help companies on any potential labour relations issues as well as provide affected workers with employment assistance.

On the matter of handling retrenchment responsibly and sensitively, Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo posted on her Facebook page that DFS could have better handled its retrenchment exercise, particularly in the way it communicated with the employees and how the severance packages were offered. According to Teo, if a company loses a contract or tender, it may find itself with excess manpower. Under such circumstances, Teo said that companies should first consider re-deploying the staff to other business units or functions and if there is still excess ins staff, employers owe it to their staff to handle things properly.

"We will help the affected DFS employees through this transition. So far, retrenchment levels in Singapore have not risen beyond that seen in the last few years. I urge employers to act responsibly if they need to retrench. Retrenchment is never easy, but handling it sensitively and responsibly can go a long way in helping employees through the transition," she said.

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