By Sng Ler Jun
12 co-operatives in Singapore have adopted one or more Tripartite Standards. The Tripartite Standards are good employment practices that help employers be more progressive in the workplace.
Several co-operatives in Singapore have made efforts to ensure that their workplaces are progressive, with even more looking to do so in the future.
As of February 2023, 12 local co-ops have adopted one or more Tripartite Standards, which refer to a set of recommended practices that Singapore-based organisations can adopt to foster progressive workplaces.
Issued by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), each of these standards aims to promote fairness, inclusivity, agility, sustainability and productivity, and comes with a set of verifiable, actionable employment practices. TAFEP was set up by the tripartite partners, the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation.
There are a total of 10 standards: advancing the well-being of lower-wage workers, employment of term contract employees, flexible work arrangements, grievance handling, recruitment practices, procurement of services from media freelancers, unpaid leaves for unexpected care needs, contracting with self-employed persons, age-friendly workplace practices, and work-life harmony practices.
Job-seeking employees can look to these co-ops, who have adopted the standards, as employers of choice with good employment practices. Other benefits include creating happier workplaces, improving productivity, having low turnovers, and encouraging talent retention.
“In the past, job seekers were unable to identify progressive employers in the market,” said Mr Elvis Overee, deputy director of Industrial & Services Co-Operative Society Limited or ISCOS. The co-op, which supports ex-offenders and their family members, has since adopted eight of these standards, including ‘Flexible Work Arrangements’. For the co-operative, inclusivity and members’ well-being are rooted in the co-op’s DNA, Mr Overee shared. The co-op first adopted the ‘Flexible Work Arrangement’ standard in 2021 to help staff better meet their personal responsibilities. Mr Overee said: “We wanted to provide staff with greater autonomy over their working schedules and improve job satisfaction.
“An organisation’s success is dependent on its people. By creating a fair and inclusive work environment, we can nurture our human capital.” The adoption is seeing fruits, he shared. “ISCOS’ annual organisation pulse check showed that 96% of our staff recommending ISCOS as a great workplace.”Co-ops looking to create flexible work arrangements must be pragmatic; some widely-practised flexible work arrangements may be unsuitable. “It is good to consider your operational needs and staff size,” Mr Overee added.
Miscommunication and misunderstandings are common occurrences at work. As with other organisations, co-ops should learn to manage them lest they affect employees’ morale and productivity. On handling grievances, Mr Max Tan, managing director of local security agency Premier Security Co-operative, said: “We want to recognise the value and importance of full discussion in clearing up misunderstandings and preserving harmonious relationships.”
Premier Security Co-operative is one of the co-operatives that has adopted the Tripartite Standard for ‘Grievance Handling’. The co-op has implemented a grievance handling procedure where employees with grievances may bring the matter up to their reporting officer within three working days.
Mr Tan said: “The procedure encourages employees to raise concerns without fear of reprisal, prevents minor disagreements developing into more serious disputes and more importantly, helps build an organisation climate based on openness and trust.”
At last year’s Annual Co-operative Leaders’ Conference, Minister of State for Community, Culture and Youth, & Trade and Industry Alvin Tan announced the launch of the Progressive Workplace grant, a one-off $4,000 grant that eligible co-ops, who have adopted at least one of the Tripartite Standards, can tap on to enhance their human resources practices.
According to Mr Tan, Premier Security Co-operative will be looking into parking the sum into a surplus fund that may be used for business development or contribute to employees’ annual wage supplement or bonuses.
The 12 co-ops, who have adopted one or more of the standards, are ISCOS, Mercatus Co-operative Limited, NTUC FairPrice Co-Operative Ltd, NTUC First Campus Co-operative Ltd, NTUC Foodfare Co-operative Ltd, NTUC Health Co-Operative Ltd, NUS Multi-Purpose Co-Operative Society Ltd, Polwel Co-Operative Society Limited, Premier Security Co-operative Ltd, Singapore Professionals' And Executives' Co-Operative Ltd, The Singapore Police Co-operative Society Ltd, and Wavelink Co-Operative Ltd.
Come mid-February this year, the Tripartite partners will be adding new recommendations to address workplace sensibilities. One advice for employers includes assessing employees and jobseekers for performance, promotion and related areas based on work-related requirements. Employees should also not be required or pressured to participate in events, programmes and policies unrelated to work.
The Singapore National Co-operative Federation was also recently awarded the Tripartite Standard for Recruitment Practices, and will continue to endeavour to attain the other standards in the coming year progressively.
“Today, our co-operatives already put in place good workplaces practices for their workers,” said Mr Ang Hin Kee, SNCF’s chief executive. “Under this new support scheme, we are confident that the coops can design their workplace practices to be aligned with best practices.”
Check out this link to view the list of organisations that have adopted Tripartite Standards.