More Singaporean co-ops adopt the Tripartite Standards

Each standard – developed by the government with unions and employers – includes a set of verifiable, actionable employment practices

Twelve co-operatives from Singapore have so far adopted one or more Tripartite Standards, a set of recommended practices to build a better work environment for employees.

Developed by the Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation under the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, the standards aim to promote fairness, inclusivity, agility, sustainability and productivity.

The 10 standards include measures to advance the wellbeing of employees on low wages, provide flexible work arrangements and unpaid leave for care needs, employ age-friendly workplace practices and ensure a healthy work-life balance.

Each standard includes a set of verifiable, actionable employment practices in a specific area of employment which employers can publicly commit to adopt and implement at their workplaces.

“In the past, job seekers were unable to identify progressive employers in the market,” said Elvis Overee, deputy director of Industrial & Services Co-operative Society Limited (ISCOS).

The co-op, which supports ex-offenders and their family members, has since adopted eight of these standards, including one for flexible work arrangements’, which it adopted in 2021 to help staff better meet their personal responsibilities.

“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,” added Overee. “By creating a fair and inclusive work environment, we can nurture our human capital.

“ISCOS’ annual organisation pulse check showed that 96% of our staff recommending ISCOS as a great workplace,” he said, adding that co-ops looking to create flexible work arrangements must be pragmatic as some widely practised flexible work arrangements may be unsuitable. “It is good to consider your operational needs and staff size.”

Local security agency Premier Security Co-operative also adopted the standard on grievance handling. Managing director Max Tan said: “We want to recognise the value and importance of full discussion in clearing up misunderstandings and preserving harmonious relationships.”

Premier Security Co-operative has implemented a grievance handling procedure where employees with grievances may bring the matter up to their reporting officer within three working days.

“The procedure encourages employees to raise concerns without fear of reprisal, prevents minor disagreements developing into more serious disputes,” said Tan, “and more importantly, helps build an organisation climate based on openness and trust.”

There are incentives for co-ops wishing to adopt the standards. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) offers complimentary Tripartite Standards Clinics to help businesses be adoption ready.

And at last year’s Annual Co-operative Leaders’ Conference, the minister for community, culture and youth, & trade and industry, Alvin Tan, announced the launch of the progressive workplace grant, which provides one-off grants of $4,000 to co-ops who have adopted at least one of the Tripartite Standards, to enable them to enhance their human resources practices.

Premier Security Co-operative was one of the co-ops to receive the grant, which, it says, it will use for business development and contributions to employees’ annual wage supplement or bonuses.

The other co-ops to have adopted at least one of the standards are: Mercatus Co-operative Limited, NTUC FairPrice Co-Operative Ltd, NTUC First Campus Co-operative Ltd, NTUC Foodfare Cooperative Ltd, NTUC Health Co-Operative Ltd, NUS Multi-Purpose Co-Operative Society Ltd, Polwel CoOperative Society Limited, Singapore Professionals’ And Executives’ Co-Operative Ltd, The Singapore Police Co-operative Society Ltd, and Wavelink Co-Operative Ltd.

The Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) was also recently awarded the Tripartite Standard for Recruitment Practices. The apex says it will work towards achieving other standards this year.

“Today, our co-operatives already put in place good workplaces practices for their workers,” said Ang Hin Kee, SNCF’s chief executive. “Under this new support scheme, we are confident that the co-ops can design their workplace practices to be aligned with best practices.”