Delivering a May Day address, the incoming Minister of Manpower, Josephine Teo, outlined her priorities for the position she took over Tuesday from the outgoing minister, Lim Swee Say.

Teo said the Ministry of Manpower will focus on creating programs to retrain Singaporean workers to keep up with changing skill requirements and new industries and expand productivity consistently throughout the economy. Teo has also emphasized the initiatives of the tripartite partnership—made up of MOM, employers and unions—and urged employers to adopt the tripartite standards introduced last year to promote progressive employment practices. More than 850 companies have signed up to at least one of the seven standards, which cover term contract employment, flexible work arrangements, grievance handling, recruitment practices, procurement of services from media freelancers, unpaid leave for unexpected care, and contracting with self-employed individuals. Teo announced the launch of an eighth standard on age-friendly work practices to support older Singaporeans who want to continue working for as long as they are able. More than 160 employers affecting 200,000 workers have already signed on as early adopters of the standard.

Employers can expect the tripartite partners to develop additional standards that will provide employers with “concrete, actionable practices” to implement at their workplaces.

“We need to keep adjusting, to sharpen our focus on what is most relevant to the times,” Teo said. In particular, she cited greater inclusiveness in the workforce for older workers, women, people with disabilities and ex-offenders, and further improvements in workplace safety and health.

BAL Analysis: Employers should anticipate that the ministry will continue to implement policies that strengthen the Singaporean core and broaden the opportunities and skills for local workers, which will have an indirect impact on the foreign workforce. For in-depth analysis on Singapore’s immigration environment and how companies can remain strong amidst tighter policies, read BAL’s white paper “Singapore Outlook for Global Business” here.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Singapore. For additional information, please contact

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