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Specific anti-discrimination laws needed to ensure fair rehiring of older PMETs

Overall, there were 15,580 layoffs last year and for this year, the figure is projected to be higher. Among the 9,090 residents made redundant last year, more than seven in 10 were professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) and about 40 per cent of those laid off from PMET jobs are in their 40s.

PMETs are the the most vulnerable group of workers since they possess more employer-specific skills and are less likely to re-enter the job market quickly after being laid off. TODAY file photo

PMETs are the the most vulnerable group of workers since they possess more employer-specific skills and are less likely to re-enter the job market quickly after being laid off. TODAY file photo

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

Overall, there were 15,580 layoffs last year and for this year, the figure is projected to be higher. Among the 9,090 residents made redundant last year, more than seven in 10 were professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) and about 40 per cent of those laid off from PMET jobs are in their 40s.

It is hardly surprising that PMETs are the most vulnerable group of workers since they cost their companies more to hire, possess skills that are more employer-specific and are less likely to re-enter the job market within a six-month period of being retrenched.

Operating in a global economy that is harnessing new disruptive technologies can account for the deceleration of wages, off-shoring of job functions and, of course, loss of employment.

While all companies — with the exception of micro enterprises — will have to notify the Ministry of Manpower of any retrenchment exercises from Jan 1 (“Firms must report layoffs to MOM from January”; Nov 26), older workers need more protection, especially in the current economic climate.

Specific anti-discrimination laws may be needed since the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) adopts an educational approach to promoting fair employment practices.

While undoubtedly beneficial for employers, this approach does not provide mature workers the protection they deserve, if they find it difficult to find new work or retain their jobs because of prejudice rather than performance.

Companies argue that too much government protection may be bad for business.

But such an assertion does not seem to hold true, given that the global competitiveness of places with anti-discrimination laws, such as the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Japan, Finland and Sweden, remains relatively stable.

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