News Recap

18 Apr to 24 Apr

24 Apr 2020
1. 5 Tips to Engage your Employees Remotely As the circuit breaker measures take effect and many workplaces are encourage to implement work-from-home arrangements, the Institute of Human Resource Professionals (IHRP) has provided five tips on how organisations can sustain engagement and stay connected with their employees. They are as follow: Communicate regularly Maintain motivation and productivity Encourage employees to upskill and reskill Promote virtual social interaction Show that you care and empathise with your employees    >> Read More   2. Grab drivers, vehicles from SMRT unit deployed to help Health Ministry take suspect COVID-19 cases to hospital Some Grab drivers as well as subsidiary of transport operator Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) have been roped in to help authorities take suspect cases of COVID-19 to hospitals. These drivers will only ferry individuals who are "stable and clinically well", taking them from primary care clinics to public acute hospitals or the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. >> Read More   3. Coronavirus: Pass on jobs support to workers or lose future payouts, MOM warns employers The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will investigate complaints that employers are not using their Jobs Support Scheme payouts to support employee salaries. The ministry said in a statement on Thursday (23 April) that companies which reduce their employees' salaries or put them on no-pay leave during the slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic will receive correspondingly lower payouts in subsequent tranches. MOM may also punish errant employers by denying them future payouts and waivers or curtailing their work pass privileges. >> Read More   4. Coronavirus: Banks to lend more money to SMEs at cheaper rate with new MAS facility A boost has been given to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who want to take out government-assisted loan forms at low interest rates as firms attempt to ride out the COVID-19 crisis. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will offer near-zero interest rate loans to eligible banks - just 0.1 per cent per annum for a two-year tenor - in a move to support SME lending under schemes from Enterprise Singapore (ESG). >> Read More   5. SMEs offer their know-how to help in fight against pandemic Using their existing know-how and capabilities, local firms are stepping to supply needed products and services in Singapore's fight to contain the the novel coronavirus outbreak. Some of these small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have developed their own innovations; others are working closely with government agencies to apply technology in new areas. >> Read More   6. Over 62,000 employers start getting foreign worker levy rebates Over 62,000 employers started getting their share of nearly $675 million in foreign worker levy rebates from 21 April. This comes as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that he would extend these rebates by another month, to ease labour costs with the circuit breaker period getting extended. Mr Heng also mentioned employers will get a levy rebate of $750 for each work permit or S Pass holder to support firms during the circuit breaker period. >> Read More

21 Mar 20 to 27 Mar 20

27 Mar 2020
1. Stay informed and safe To help Singaporean stay informed on the latest health, economic and social developments related to the outbreak, Straits Times is making their news reports and analyses by their correspondents freely available to all. Members can also sign up for their free newsletter on the coronavirus outbreak.   2. MOM issues stop-work orders to 34 companies for not following safe distancing measures In the past week, the ministry issued 34 stop-work orders and 36 remedial orders, the result of a four-day long operation, which saw its officers conducting checks on more than 100 companies. It said on Friday (March 27) that these companies were required to make “immediate rectifications” and urged other businesses to keep themselves updated on the latest advisories. ASPRI urges all members to review the advisory on the safe distancing measures and ensure compliance. Members can also view all other relevant advisories on our website here: >> Read More   3. Foreign workers who flout gathering size rules may lose work passes if they refuse to disperse The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (Mar 26) warned that foreign workers who do not comply with gathering size rules could have their work passes revoked if they fail to disperse when told to by the authorities. In a letter to employers, MOM said foreign workers are expected to practise safe distancing during their rest days and that it will conduct ground inspections to “pro-actively disperse gatherings. As outdoor gatherings among foreign workers tend to be large, MOM will take action to disperse them as an added precaution,” said the letter. It “strongly advised” foreign workers to remain in their places of residence on their rest days, adding that those who have errands to run should make use of facilities within their dormitories or as close by as possible. Additionally, a total of 89 work pass holders have had their passes revoked as of Saturday (Mar 21) for breaching entry approval and stay-home notice requirements. In a press release, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that the workers have been permanently banned from working in Singapore. >> Read More   4. Digital Solutions and Resources for Companies The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and SGTech have jointly curated a suite of technology solutions to help Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and businesses address business continuity challenges, allowing them to be better positioned to grow and capture new business opportunities when the economy recovers. These specially-curated solutions aim to make business continuity essentials more accessible to SMEs and businesses, across several key categories: Remote Working Visitor Management Bill and Pay Online Sell Online Others >> Read More   5. Why SMEs should embrace machine learning Recent technological advancements have placed artificial intelligence (AI) along with its subfield of machine learning (ML), at the forefront of transforming SMEs digitally. Some SMEs are starting to tap into ML to shape their business processes and decision-making with the ultimate aim of raising profitability through revenue improvement, cost reduction and new sources of value creation. With the right mindset towards ML adoption and readiness to embrace changes, SMEs will be on their way to realise the benefits of digitisation. >> Read More   6. WSH Alert Accident Advisory Last week, there were 2 advisories issues by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council. Worker electrocuted and fell from height   On 7 November 2019 around 9:30am, a worker was on a ladder replacing the motor of a roller shutter when he suffered an electrical shock and fell about 5 metres to the ground. He was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. >> Read More Worker struck by ejected assembly component On 23 March 2020, a worker was using a hydraulic press machine to dismantle an engineering component when he was struck by a part of the assembly. He was conveyed to the hospital where he passed away. >> Read More

14 Mar 20 to 20 Mar 20

20 Mar 2020
1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Is It Recession Proof? With COVID-19, recession seems all but inevitable. Yet there are corners of the tech industry that could be poised for transformations. One is actually Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA can help save an organisation money by automating any repetitive task that a human does with keyboard and mouse, as well as tasks in legacy systems that can’t be accessed via APIs and Web Services. RPA bots accelerate ‘low-hanging fruit’ processes in every business like opening email and attachments, filling in forms, reading from and writing to databases, making calculations, collecting social media statistics, and extracting data from documents, all very quickly. Such capabilities are likely to be essential during this period of time. >> Read More   2. Digital Twin technology and its impact on industry As the Industry 4.0 paradigm continues to evolve, the Digital Twins technology provides a pragmatic opportunity to leverage virtual models to also enable impact points such as to predict failures and prescribe actions. Reachability, convenience, safety, appreciation for interdependent, and cascading, failures often constrain field maintenance. Digital twin technologies have the potential to not only enable remote sensing, the accurate prediction of asset degradation but also offer to design millions of complex what-if simulations and augment root cause analysis for detected real-world conditions. >> Read More   3. SBF, V3 Fintech launch digital academy for SMEs  THE Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and V3 Fintech, the fintech arm of lifestyle products group V3, on Thursday launched Beyond Lab, a digital academy to train Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in digital competencies. The lab will help SMEs in Singapore and the region use digital technology to become more resilient, adaptable and able to cope with disruptions such as the Covid-19 outbreak which is reshaping business practices and consumer habits. It will focus on areas such as data analytics, fintech innovations and support for green solutions. >> Read More   4. Job vacancies to fall further so focus will be on saving jobs, reskilling workers Singapore saw fewer job vacancies overall last year but there were still many opportunities in growth sectors, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on March 20, Friday. Going forward, however, the uncertainties this year amid the coronavirus outbreak means vacancies are likely to fall further, she said. While business is down, the Government wants to work with employers to reskill and upskill their workers to prepare them for new job opportunities when the economy recovers, she said. Note: During this critical period, ASPRI members can tap on available grants like Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) and newly announced Job Placement Programme (JPP). Such programmes provide companies with salary support as they hire and convert potential employees. >> Read More   5. MOM penalises 5 firms for age-related discriminatory hiring 5 employers in Singapore have been barred from hiring foreigners and renewing the work passes of existing foreign employees for a year with immediate effect. The penalties were meted out after their hiring practices were found to be discriminatory. They had either placed job advertisements which indicated a preference for a certain age group or, later in the hiring process, indicated preferences for candidates of a certain age group. These practices breach the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, and employers that engage in these practices may be debarred from hiring foreign workers. Members are strongly encouraged to review their hiring processes to ensure it is in line with MOM’s requirements. >> Read More   6. HSBC rolls out new green loan HSBC Singapore wants to make green finance easier and less costly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with a new green loan that will accept applications based on Singapore industry certifications. This does away with the need for typically onerous green finance frameworks. Demand for green finance from SMEs is growing. Hundreds of companies are pursuing green initiatives, ranging from the development of green products to the purchase of lower-emission or energy-efficient equipment. Ultimately, every business has a part to play in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. >> Read More   7. Fire, explosion at Petronas-Aramco refining complex in Malaysia A fire and explosion at the Pengerang refining and petrochemicals complex in southern Malaysia owned by a Petronas and Saudi Aramco joint venture has killed four, state news agency Bernama reported on Monday, citing authorities. Another person sustained 70% burns and one person was missing, Pauzan Ahmad, an official with the Johor state fire and rescue department, was quoted as saying by Bernama. The incident occurred on Sunday night at the diesel hydro treater unit in the Pengerang complex, Mr Pauzan said, adding that the cause of the fire was under investigation. >> Read More

07 Mar 20 to 13 Mar 20

13 Mar 2020
1. Advisory for employers and employees traveling to and from affected areas in response to increase in cases of COVID-19 MOH’s travel advisory has been updated to cover: • Mainland China; • France; • Germany; • Iran; • Italy; • Japan; • Republic of Korea; • Spain With effect from 15 March 2020, 2359 hours, all new visitors with recent travel history to mainland China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Republic of Korea, or Spain within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or to transit through Singapore, except for the following groups : • Singapore Citizens; • Permanent Residents (PRs); • Long-term pass holders, including Work Passes and Permits, Student Pass, Dependant’s Pass, and Long-Term Visit Pass Those with travel history within the last 14 days to the above restricted locations will also be issued a Stay-Home Notice (SHN). • For advisory on social distancing measures at the workplace, please click HERE • For updated advisory for businesses by Enterprise Singapore (ESG), please click HERE >> Read More   2. Firms must notify MOM if salaries hit by cost-cutting Employers must notify the MOM if cost-cutting measures taken during the current slowdown have affected workers’ salaries, and indicate that they have done so fairly. This requirement, which is part of an update yesterday to the tripartite advisory on managing excess manpower and responsible retrenchment, kicks in today. The notifications will also allow MOM to monitor the scope and scale of such measures, and whether more government interventions are needed. >> Read More   3. 24-hr e-mail among MOM’s migrant worker outreach The Ministry set up the e-mail address to deal specifically with coronavirus-related queries by employers and workers. It is manned by about five MOM officers, 24 hours a day. In some cases, the MOM would respond “immediately” if the request was urgent, said Mr Tan, for example if a worker could not get food while complying with the stay-home notice. These are some of the several measures MOM has been taking to reach out to the migrant worker community during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. For more resources on COVID-19, please visit HERE. >> Read More   4. Workplace fatalities fall to record low in 2019; injuries rise Workplace deaths fell to 39 last year, or 1.1 per 100,000 workers, according to MOM data out yesterday. This is compared with the 41 deaths in 2018 and marks the lowest rate of fatalities since 2004, when records were first compiled. Non-fatal major injuries increased by 5 per cent last year to 629 cases. Major injuries usually involve the loss of a body part or function, and include amputation, fractures, blindness or conditions that require medical leave of more than 20 days. The top cause for both major and minor injuries was slips, trips and falls, with construction workers, drivers, cleaners and security guards being most prone to major injuries because of this. MOM will also step up education and inspection efforts for lower-risk industries. >> Read More   5. President Halimah calls for wider adoption of flexi-work arrangements to support women with family obligations In line with International Women’s Day on Sunday (March 8), President Halimah Yacob said that women in Singapore have progressed in all areas, but more could be done to support them on the work front. Her call for more flexible working arrangements for women comes soon after the issue of flexi-work and caregiving, especially for women who have to juggle work and home responsibilities. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling stressed the Government’s will make offering options to make flexi-work easier for employers. Among other things, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices’ website will be a one-stop flexi-work resource, and consolidate flexi-work implementation guides. There will also be a free online tool to help employers include flexi-work clauses in their employee contracts, Ms Low said. >> Read More   6. Hesitation to digitalise causing Singapore SMEs to lose competitiveness Published on 11 March, a survey by QBE Insurance Singapore revealed that SMEs “continue to approach new risks lightly with minimal contingency planning – a finding that has been consistent with previous survey results”. SMEs are the key driving force for Singapore’s economy. It is therefore critical to understand the importance of digitalising and scaling up to become more competitive in the marketplace. Assistance provided by the government, especially more so in the recent Budget announcement, should provide SMEs with the resources to establish proper contingency plans. This helps to ensure that their overall long-term growth is both sustainable and safe. Members can write in to ASPRI Secretariat should they require further information on government grants available to assist you in your digitalisation journey. >> Read More

29 Feb 20 to 06 Mar 20

06 Mar 2020
1. New Workfare scheme and other measures to help uplift low-wage workers The new scheme, called Workfare Skills Support, will begin on July 1 and will provide more help for workers who complete training leading to full qualifications. This new scheme will replace the existing Workfare Training Support Scheme, which was introduced in 2010 to encourage companies to send their lower-wage workers for training. Enhancements under the new scheme include raising the funding for training allowance from $4.50 to $6 per hour, to offset the opportunity costs of workers' training. It will also raise the Training Commitment Award for Full Qualifications from $200 to $500. The annual cap for the award will also be increased from $400 to $1,000, as completion of the qualifications has led to higher wages for these workers. >> Read More   2. Government to roll out new measures to help companies adopt flexible work arrangements More measures to encourage companies to adopt flexible work arrangements (FWAs) are in the pipeline, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling on 3 March. This is in light of evolving workplace practices and an ageing population. MOM will also launch an online free-to-use employment contract builder to help employers include clauses on FWAs into their employees’ contracts. >> Read More   3. Government to publish advisory to help improve mental wellbeing in the workplace The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will soon be issuing an advisory to help employers take steps to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace. The advisory will highlight initiatives companies should emulate, and that could include access to anonymised external counselling service, or training supervisors to identify mental health symptoms early. The ministry is also piloting iWorkHealth, a web-based psychosocial assessment tool to help employers and their employees identify workplace stressors, while recommending ways to improve mental well-being. The tool is expected to launch later this year. >> Read More   4. Looking out for migrant workers, especially in public health crises HealthServe is a local non-governmental organisation that offers medical care, counselling, social assistance and other support to migrant workers in the community. At HealthServe’s clinics in Geylang, Mandai and Jurong, migrant workers are able to access medical care for only S$8. >> Read More   5. Employment Pass minimum qualifying salary to be raised to $3,900; tighter rules on hiring foreign workers  Rules for hiring foreign workers will be tightened as part of efforts to assure Singaporeans that they are competing on a level playing field. From May this year, the minimum salary for foreign professionals to qualify for an Employment Pass (EP) will be raised to $3,900 per month, up from $3,600. In addition, the "local qualifying salary" or the minimum salary a local worker must earn to count towards a firm's quota for hiring foreigners on work permits and S Passes will be raised from $1,300 to $1,400. This will take effect in July. >> Read More   6. Circular economy approach to maximise resources, reduce waste Industrial developer JTC Corporation is partnering companies on Jurong Island, as well as agencies such as national water agency PUB and the National Environment Agency, to conduct a Jurong Island Circular Economy Study, he added. The study will map out the flow of water, energy and waste on the island and identify system-level gaps. The circular economy approach promotes sustainability as it employs re-use, reduce, re-manufacturing and recycling to maximise the use of limited resources, and reduce the creation of waste as well as greenhouse gas emissions, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry. >> Read More   7. First of coastal protection studies to start this year; Jurong Island, East Coast are priority areas This year, PUB will embark on coastal protection studies to develop long-term strategies and engineering designs for protecting the most vulnerable segments of the Republic's coast, including Jurong Island and low-lying parts of the coast between the east and the city. Singapore's coastal protection plans will be done in phases, starting with both these areas, said Mr Masagos, during the debate on his ministry's budget. >> Read More   8. Three ways to boost safety with a proper maintenance planning and scheduling While maintenance work is routine enough to cause complacency, it is not routine enough to avoid surprises. No one should ever blindly follow any job plan or schedule, but management can greatly improve safety with planning and scheduling. A proper maintenance planning and scheduling program boosts safety in three ways: 1. Provide job plans in advance that anticipate and prepare for potential hazards 2. Save and apply knowledge from previous safety encounters to make plans even safer over time 3. Schedulers increase craft productivity to complete more proactive work to reduce the need for the most dangerous work altogether >> Read More   9. How the cloud can level the playing field for SMEs competing with industry giants The relentless pressure of intensifying global competition and shortened business cycles mean they need to innovate more and react faster. Without the resources of much larger players, SMEs have to think of ways to operate more efficiently to free up resources for innovation. The cloud offers many other advantages, allowing businesses to leverage a host of capabilities that are easy to implement without the associated outlay. Here are some capabilities that SMEs can expect when they turn to the cloud: - Data management - Device-agnostic access - Automation and real-time updates - Access to the latest technology >> Read More   10. Force majeure is new 'abracadabra' amid Covid-19 "Force majeure" has become a new watchword, with energy supply chain players scrambling to weigh their legal options as Chinese buyers get leery of prior purchase commitments, in the fallout from Covid-19. To protect themselves, companies should have specific contract clauses that spell out what makes for a force majeure event. Dentons Rodyk's Mr Guwe also noted that there is usually a duty "to use commercially reasonable efforts to mitigate the effects of force majeure", such as by finding alternative sources of materials and manpower. >> Read More   11. SBF, ASME selling thermometers at cost to businesses Members that have been unable to procure thermometers for workplace screenings can obtain up to two thermometers per company at the cost price of S$50 from the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) for a limited time. Companies that received the e-mail from ASME can place their orders to SBF via links in the e-mail. Those who do not have the e-mail can access the order form through the SBF e-portal. Non-SBF members will need to create an account to submit their orders. >> Read More

22 Feb 20 to 28 Feb 20

28 Feb 2020
1. Time for Singaporean Companies to Transform their Business Malaysia oil and gas service providers can expect contract awards to improve in the first three months of the new year, compared with the decline in 2019 - on the back of not just seasonal lumpiness in the first and fourth quarters, but also momentum from longer-term projects. According to a recent report by AmBank analyst Alex Goh, Saudi Aramco has picked Sapura Energy and Malaysia Marine & Heavy Engineering Holdings for its long-term agreement programme - opening up the field to offshore projects in Brazil, Mexico, the Middle East and West Africa that may be worth as much as US$150 billion over the next decade. With competition arising from Engineering Service Providers (ESPs) all over the world, ASPRI urges members to continue evolving in areas such as digitalisation and internationalisation. >> Read More   2. Coronavirus outbreak gives Singapore impetus to boost supply chain resilience In its efforts to contain fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, Singapore is focused not only on mitigating disruption, but also on positioning businesses here for the eventual recovery. In addition to using the downtime to restructure its processes and upskill workers, Singapore needs to relook its supply chains from labour to materials to ensure the country is not overly dependent on any single source or market. >> Read More   3. Scheme to let China work permit holders switch jobs Work permit holders from China who are already in Singapore can soon switch jobs without having to leave the country, in a temporary scheme unveiled by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 25 February, Tuesday to soften the economic blow of the COVID-19 outbreak on businesses. The move, which some employers had suggested at a closed-door session earlier this month, will let Chinese workers in manufacturing and services move between companies for six months from next Monday. Malaysian work permit holders, as well as foreign workers in the construction, process and marine sectors, are already able to do so. >> Read More   4. From cash flow to marketing, help for businesses flow in amid virus outbreak On 24 February, Fundtier announced it is offering S$1 million in loans to local SMEs that are keen to use a mobile marketing solution by its strategic partner, Dodoca Information Technology (S). Each business using the Dodoca Integrated Mobile Marketing Productivity & Solution could get a loan of up to S$10,000. The loan would be interest free for up to six months. FundTier will also absorb all administrative fees. >> Read More

15 Feb 20 to 21 Feb 20

21 Feb 2020
1. Singapore Budget 2020 Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered Singapore’s FY2020 Budget Statement on Tue 18 Feb 2020, focused on Advancing as One Singapore. The Budget is presented against a backdrop of the on-going COVID-19 outbreak, as well as broader uncertainties and structural shifts in the global landscape. Members can refer to the following links for more information: - Care And Support Package – See measures for Care And Support Package HERE - Stabilisation And Support Package – See measures for Stabilisation And Support Package HERE - Supporting Our Businesses – See measures for a vibrant and innovative economy HERE >> Read Full Budget Booklet   2. Employers who send healthy workers to hospitals for COVID-19 test may get work pass privileges suspended, warns MOM Do not send employees to hospitals unless there is a medical emergency, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has warned employers, after hospitals reported that employers were dropping off workers to have them tested for the coronavirus. “Employers who act irresponsibly by misusing medical facilities may have their work pass privileges suspended,” it added. Mr Kevin Teoh, divisional director of MOM’s foreign manpower management division reminded employers that hospitals will not test individuals who are well. If workers are unwell, members should them sent to a general practitioner, who will then assess if the worker needs to be taken to hospital. >> Read More   3. Prudential offers S$500 cash to those quarantined, defers SME premiums amid outbreak Prudential Singapore introduced a S$1.5 million relief package for SMEs and individuals affected by COVID-19. Assistance includes: - One-time cash benefit of S$500 to its customers and their immediate family members who are served with quarantine orders for the virus - Individual customers and their immediate family members who are admitted to hospitals in Singapore for COVID-19 will also receive a daily allowance of S$200, for up to three months of hospitalisation. - Existing SME customers of Prudential can defer their premium payments for up to 3 months >> Read More   4. Young leaders from Singapore business families set up S$5m fund for SMEs Young leaders from 6 prominent business families in Singapore are behind a S$5 million fund to provide financing help for local enterprises hit by the impact of COVID-19. The companies are Goldbell Group, Apricot Capital, Ho Lee Group, Paradise Group, Sing Lun Group and Soilbuild Group, in partnership with the Singapore Business Federation Young Business Leaders Network (SBF-YBLN). The fund will be used to provide short-term working capital loans of up to 12 months, with the monies expected to target more than 100 SMEs. >> Read More   5. 400 applications for work pass holders to re-enter Singapore rejected daily MOM has rejected about 400 applications to re-enter Singapore from work pass holders with travel history to China each day since a new rule aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 started, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on 14 February, Friday. From the beginning of this week, employers have had to get approval from the ministry before work pass holders who have recently been in mainland China can start their journey to Singapore. >> Read More

08 Feb 20 to 14 Feb 20

14 Feb 2020
1. Additional Measures at the Workplace Ministry of Health (MOH) has recommended these additional measures at workplace: 1. Please ensure your employees conduct regular temperature-taking at least twice a day, and check whether they have respiratory symptoms. 2. Do pay special attention to older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions in planning their operations or work schedules. 3. Do consider cancelling or deferring organising non-essential large-scale events. All companies and employees should closely monitor COVID-19-related developments and follow travel and health advisories. Please refer to the MOH website for the latest update on the COVID-19 situation.   2. Singapore banks roll out virus relief measures for SMEs, retail customers As COVID-19 outbreak continues to rattle the region, Singapore banks have stepped in with relief measures to help businesses. - OCBC will offer targeted support to customers across its core markets affected by the virus outbreak, it said in a statement. To read more on OCBC’s support, CLICK HERE. - DBS will support SMEs with liquidity relief packages to address their “most urgent cash flow needs” during this period, the lender said in a statement. To read more on DBS’ support, CLICK HERE. - UOB said it had allocated S$3 billion to provide Singapore-based companies, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with relief assistance. To read more on UOB’s support, CLICK HERE.   3. SMEs to get free StarHub softphone service for remote working during outbreak Starting from Feb 13, SMEs will be able to subscribe to the softphone app of StarHub’s cloud telephony solution for free, till Sept 1, 2020. This comes as companies are putting in place business continuity plans in view of potential escalations in the novel coronavirus situation. With the softphone app – called SmartUC Mobile – employees of SMEs will not need to be in the office to make or receive landline calls. They can still be contacted through their landline numbers from remote locations by using the app installed in their mobile phones and/or laptops. StarHub said it will progressively reach out to its SME customers to inform them about the free subscription initiative. Eligible members can start immediately by contacting the StarHub Business Hotline at 1800 888-8888 or visit from today, 13 February 2020. >> Read More   4. Kick off the decade with a cybersecurity upgrade A recent report by an independent research institute on the Global State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses suggested that 66% of respondents had faced a cyberattack in 2019. To tackle this issue, some considerations for members are to: - Train and educate employees to maintaining good cyber hygiene and a culture of safety and security - Introduce multi-factor authentication (MFA) – which verifies the identity of all users by requiring two or more steps before they are able to log in - Think ‘when’, not ‘if’ – do not focus on prevention solely and go beyond to have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the case of a cyberattack >> Read More   5. Industrial autonomy: The dawn of a new era in the process industries The process industries around the world are moving closer to autonomy than ever before. Many operating companies are making an effort to “de-man” and achieve unmanned remote operations in efforts to reduce costs, alleviate the difficulty of attracting people to operate facilities onsite and removing people from remote or unsafe situations. Mr. Fiske, Principal Technology Strategist at Yokogawa’s U.S. Technology Centre mentioned that to achieve autonomy, many steps are necessary which includes: - Implementing procedural automation for manual operations, including complex operations like startups and shutdowns - Adopting intelligent sensors to improve condition monitoring of both equipment and the process - Conducting remote monitoring, surveillance and inspection via robots - Applying predictive and prescriptive maintenance using analytics, machine learning and other AI techniques - Applying AI and other analytics techniques to monitor processes for impending abnormal conditions, and automatically applying corrective action >> Read More   6. Two men, including Singaporean, die of burns from Jurong Island chemical plant fire The Workplace Safety and Health Council said on Tuesday (Feb 11) the fire broke out when the hose connected to the nitrogen supply ruptured owing to high pressure. The workers were among a group carrying out purging of a hydrocarbon pipeline in a plant at 21 Sakra Avenue. Workplaces are reminded to depressurise pipelines before any nitrogen purging. They are also required to conduct risk assessments and implement safe work procedures for all purging activities, the council added. >> Read More   7. What to look for in a good PPE partner Ensuring workers are protected starts with selecting the right personal protective equipment (PPE) provider. Members can consider the following in your search for a PPE provider: - Robust shipping/delivery capabilities - Broad PPE product offering - Whether products meet or exceed safety standards A good PPE provider will help reduce, rather than increase, the amount of work your company must do to protect its workforce. >> Read More

01 Feb 20 to 07 Feb 20

07 Feb 2020
1. Singapore raises risk alert for novel coronavirus to Orange Singapore authorities on 7 February 2020 raised their risk assessment of the 2019 novel coronavirus from Yellow to Orange, the second highest level. With the alert level now raised to Orange, authorities are introducing additional precautionary measures to minimise the risk of further transmission in the community, said Lawrence Wong, National Development Minister and co-chair of the multi-ministry task force. Employers too should conduct regular temperature-taking at least twice a day, and all workplaces should step up their business continuity plans, MOH said in its statement. This can include allowing employees to telecommute or dividing the workforce into segregated teams. To receive the latest information about the novel coronavirus and important Government updates, ASPRI urges members to subscribe WhatsApp by clicking HERE.   >> Read More   2. Postponement of Study Mission to Netherlands In view of the heightened risk assessment of the 2019 novel coronavirus from Yellow to Orange, ASPRI would like to announce that we will be postponing the upcoming Study Mission to Netherlands until further notice. We will be monitoring the situation very closely, and will keep members updated on the postponed date. In the meantime, we would like to encourage members to practice good personal hygiene of regular hand washing with soap and water, and the use of hand santisers when soap and water are unavailable. Avoid touching your face unnecessarily, and especially if your hands are not clean.   3. Cybersecurity: Phising/Spam Emails posing as ASPRI It has come to our attention that some of our members have received phising/spam emails with the sender posing as ASPRI. We would like to advise all member companies to remain vigilant and do your due diligence by not opening files which look dubious (E.g. *.exe / *.zip and etc.). Do not stop at checking the name of the sender, constantly check the email domain of the sender to verify the authenticity of the email. When in doubt, always make contact to the sender for verification. Together, we can protect our workplace when everyone plays their part.

25 Jan 20 to 31 Jan 20

31 Jan 2020
1. WHO declares Wuhan virus a ‘global health emergency’: What does that mean? The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on 30 January, Thursday that the coronavirus epidemic in China now constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. In response to the above declaration, earlier today Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore is watching the developments, and the latest assessment by the World Health Organisation confirms its view of the situation, with ministers evaluating what should be done next. He also mentioned that announcements would be made later during the day and reminded individuals to do their part and to be sensible. To receive the latest information about the novel coronavirus and important Government updates, ASPRI urges members to subscribe WhatsApp by clicking HERE.   >> Read More   2. Temperature screening, quarantine facilities in place at foreign worker dormitories Since 24 January, Ministry of Manpower (MOM) officers have been in regular contact with dormitory operators to brief them on the current situation and the precautionary measures to take, a ministry spokesperson said. The operators have been tasked to regularly check and monitor their residents, and perform supervised temperature checks on those who had traveled to China in the past 14 days. ASPRI would like to update you that ASPRI Dormitory Pte Ltd (ADPL) is monitoring the situation of our Dormitory, ASPRI-Westlite Dormitory – Papan closely with our Westlite partner. In addition to the precautionary measures as advised by the relevant authorities, we have also done the following: - Display notices and advisories from local health authorities at noticeboards and strategic areas such as entrances, lift lobbies, canteens etc - Stock up sufficient surgical masks for foreign workers (if failed temp check or unwell) according to recommended quantities as advised by MOH - Ensure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) issue to front line staffs - Ensure staff are to go for flu vaccination - Prepare 32 beds for quarantined residents/workers >> Read More   3. Employees ‘afraid’ to take time off for health checks Close to half (40%) of workers globally are worried about their long-term health but 40% admitted they haven’t had a health check in the last year. A third said they “don’t have time to be ill at work” and nearly a quarter (21%) cited lack of time off from work as the reason. Results indicated that employers could play a bigger role in encouraging people to look after their health, with over a quarter (27%) of office workers admitting they would go to the doctor if their boss told them to. In Singapore, the city has urged employers to work on a mindset shift and prioritise employee health as much as workplace safety. Especially when the cost of lost productivity due to ill health is more than 10 times the cost of its prevention, based on a study cited by Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor. >> Read More   4. Cybersecurity: no longer a luxury, but a necessity Over half of cyberattacks globally are aimed at SMEs, according to a study conducted by the insurer Chubb. In Singapore, 96% of the local companies surveyed in the March 2019 Carbon Black Singapore Threat Report fell victim to a cybersecurity breach in 2018. Many of these companies are SMEs. It is important to protect information along every stage of the data trail, from ensuring that data is encrypted and only shared on secure channels, that there are controls on how data can be shared – and that the chain of data custody can be tracked along the entire process. >> Read More   5. How Wireless Tech is Changing Predictive Maintenance Machine downtime is very expensive and when things go wrong companies are seriously impacted. To avoid such costly incidents, extend the life of equipment and reduce operational inefficiencies in the process, industrial plant operators are increasingly turning to predictive maintenance (PdM) solutions based on low power wireless technologies. Research suggests it’s advisable, if not essential, for companies to prioritise machine reliability. According to the International Society of Automation, $647 billion is lost globally each year due to machine downtime. Wireless PdM allows engineers to remotely monitor data about the condition of industrial assets to catch defects and forecast problems before they escalate. >> Read More

18 Jan 20 to 24 Jan 20

24 Jan 2020
1. Health Alert: Advisory on Wuhan virus On 23 Jan, Singapore announced a confirmed case of the Wuhan virus, a new coronavirus that has sickened hundreds of people and killed at least 25 in China. Ministry of Health (MOH) Singapore reported that there have been a total of 28 suspect cases so far, with the ages ranging from one to 78 years old. ASPRI would like to share with members the following precautions given by MOH: - Avoid contact with live animals, including poultry and birds - Avoid eating raw and undercooked meat - Avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell or are showing symptoms of illness - Wash your hands with soap frequently, including before handling food or eating, after going to the toilet or when hands are dirtied after coughing or sneezing - Wear a surgical mask if showing respiratory symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath - Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing and throw the soiled tissue paper into the bin at once - See a doctor if you are feeling sick   >> Read More   2. SMEs need more liquidity, access to digital solutions The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) SME Committee on Tuesday called for increased liquidity and greater access to digital solutions in the upcoming Budget 2020 to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) better position themselves for the global economy’s next upswing. Kurt Wee, chairman of the SBF SME Committee, said: “The global slowdown in growth is likely to persist for the foreseeable future. Companies should seize this window of opportunity to upgrade their human capital, strengthen their digital capabilities and expand overseas for diversification of markets. Whilst more tangible support for SMEs is necessary this year, we would also like to encourage SMEs themselves to be more proactive in seeking out and leveraging available resources, be it provided by the government, SBF or other TACs.’ >> Read More   3. MOM reminds firms to ensure workplace safety Three people have died in workplace accidents since the start of the new year, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 19 Jan, as it called for companies to ensure a safe working environment. In its post, the MOM said four workplaces had been issued with stop-work orders for hazards which posed a danger to workers. ASPRI strongly encourages all members to revisit their workplace safety and health management systems to ensure safety of all workers. >> Read More   4. Employment rate for Singaporeans rose over last decade, mirrors trend for resident population The employment rate of Singapore citizens has risen over the past decade, so has the share of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) among working Singaporeans. Here are some key figures from the articles: Details 2019 2009 Employment rate of citizens 63.6% 60.0% Employment rates for working age citizens (aged 25 to 64) 80.5% 75.6% Employment rates of Permanent Residents 65.2% 61.6% There were 2.33 million residents in the labour force as of June 2019, comprising 1.97 million Singaporeans and 360,000 PRs. >> Read More   5. Why people quit at the start of the year – and how to keep them In Asia, the great Chinese New Year exodus can be attributed to the desire to start the new year on a clean slate. However, this can be prevented in several ways. Some considerations for ASPRI members are to: - Assign a mentor to guide and help the new employee understand the culture of the organisation - Share challenges and celebrate successes - Cultivate teamwork through brainstorming sessions and idea exchanges. Streamlining employee engagement and cultivating a productive work culture may be the key to better retain employees. >> Read More

11 Jan 20 to 17 Jan 20

17 Jan 2020
1. Singapore beat expectations, attracted $15.2b of investments in 2019 Singapore far exceeded its forecast for investment commitments last year by pulling in $15.2 billion, 39% more than in 2018, despite a challenging year weighed down by global economic uncertainties. This was driven by large manufacturing investments from semiconductor as well as energy and chemical companies, the Economic Development Board (EDB) shared at its Year-in-Review. For 2020, members can look forward to EDB’s support in three key areas: strengthening Singapore’s position as a platform for companies to tap opportunities in South-east Asia, reinforcing the Republic’s role as a hub for manufacturing and non-manufacturing companies to develop and deliver digital solutions, and supporting companies in their innovation journeys.   >> Read More   2. Shell Singapore invests in polycarbonate development unit at Jurong Island plant Energy giant Shell on Monday said it has started constructing a polycarbonate development unit at its Jurong Island chemicals plant in Singapore. According to Shell, polycarbonate is a transparent and impact-resistant engineering polymer. It is used to make vehicle headlights, LED spotlights, UV-blocking windows and spectacle lenses. The development unit will enable Shell to improve the technology used to produce polycarbonate, when combined with its own patented technology. >> Read More   3. Logistics firm charged with falsely declaring it hired fairly Following MOM’s announcement of changes to the Fair Consideration Framework on 2nd January 2020, a logistics firm has become the first company to be charged in court for falsely declaring it had considered local candidates for a job fairly before trying to employ a foreigner. Members are to take note of the following negative examples given by MOM: - Some employers go through the motion of advertising on after pre-selecting a foreigner, and do not review the applicants from - Some employers post discriminatory job advertisements These practices breach the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, and employers that engage in these practices may be debarred from hiring foreign workers. Members are strongly encouraged to review their hiring processes to ensure it is in line with MOM’s requirements. >> Read More   4. Narrowing the gender pay gap: Do more for working mothers, say women advocacy groups A MOM study shows that women in Singapore earned 6% less than their male peers in 2018. This adjusted gender pay gap is the wage difference that remains after taking into account factors such as the worker’s industry, occupation, age and education. It translates to a median monthly salary difference of S$342. Women advocacy groups are championing for more family-friendly policies and initiatives to be in place to further narrow the gender pay gap in Singapore. >> Read More   5. The digital twin: A virtual revolution for oil and gas A digital twin is a 360-degree digital or virtual copy of a physical asset or product with real-time, two-way communication between the physical and virtual worlds. This enables companies to optimise operating processes and improve capital investments in the virtual world before applying them in the physical one. As digital technologies make deep inroads into the oil and gas industry, the concept of a ‘digital twin’ is coming under the spotlight as a significant driver of business value. >> Read More

31 Dec 19 to 03 Jan 20

03 Jan 2020
1. MOM’s efforts to reduce hiring discrimination in 2020 MOM has announced on 2nd January 2020 that it is looking to update the Fair Consideration Framework – a government effort that details fair hiring requirements for companies in Singapore. The changes, expected to be revealed in 2 weeks, would reduce hiring discrimination against Singaporeans while also strengthening support given to companies who actively recruit and reskill Singapore citizens.   >> Read More   2. Forecast of Singapore’s GDP for 2020 2019 witnessed a slow growth in economy at 0.8% in comparison to 2018 with 3.1%. For 2020, several economists are expecting a growth between 1-2% but do identify key global factors that may affect it such as the ‘Phase One’ trade deal between US and China. To assist companies and employees, an announcement will be made by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat during the 2020 Budget statement, to be released on 18 February 2020. >> Read More   3. Forecast of issues in Cybersecurity Vice President and Managing Director of Asia South Region Veritas, Mr Ravi Rajendran gave his predictions on cybersecurity for 2020. A crucial prediction that might impact the PCM sector is the possible increase in ransomware attackers. Instead of targeting employees, Mr Ravi mentioned that attackers will target accounts with access to systems of intended targets. This would include partners, approved vendors, contractors and freelancers. A recommendation given is to publish government’s PDPA policies and provide an update on an annual basis, emphasising that standards must be met. >> Read More
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