Singapore: Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling

By Chye Shu Yi, Susan de Silva


On 20 October 2017, the Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling was released by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) comprising the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF). Key points employers should know about the new Standard are set out below.

Tripartite Standards

Tripartite Standards outline verifiable employment practices in key HR areas, and complement Singapore's employment legislation and Tripartite guidelines and advisories. While Tripartite Standards are not legal requirements, employers which adopt these standards can enjoy greater visibility through TAFEP as having fair, progressive and harmonious workplaces, thus enhancing their attraction and retention of manpower.

The Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling is the third in a series of Tripartite Standards released this year – the earlier two relate to term contract employees and flexible work arrangements. Further details on these can be found in our article here.

More Tripartite Standards are expected to be released in 2018.

Grievance Handling Standard – Specifications 

"Workplace grievances": refers to discontent or feelings of unfairness at work which may be felt by an individual employee or a group of employees, e.g. arising from a wage cut or retrenchment exercise.

Purpose of Standard: to manage workplace grievances in a diverse workplace and build an inclusive and harmonious workplace.

Specifications for Employers:

  • Have a written grievance handling Procedure.
  • The grievance handling Procedure should cover:
    • procedure for employees to raise grievance.
    • procedure for employer to conduct proper investigation and respond to affected persons.
    • appropriate authority to hear the grievance.
    • reasonable period of time for action to be taken.
    • right of employee to bring unresolved grievance to next level (e.g. if employee is a member of a recognised union, to request for union assistance on the grievance).
    • documentation of discussions.
    • confidentiality of information.
  • Clearly communicate the grievance handling Procedure to all employees.
  • Train supervisors and appointed staff to:
    • manage employee feedback and workplace grievances;
    • work with recognised union (if any).

What this means for Employers

The Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling sets out the TAFEP parties' (including the MOM's) expectations on the subject of grievance handling in the workplace. 

Employers which already have a grievance handling procedure may wish to review and update their procedures against this Tripartite Standard. Employers which do not have a grievance handling procedure may wish to adopt such a procedure for the benefit of their workforce and themselves as highlighted by TAFEP.

This article is produced by our Singapore office, Bird & Bird ATMD LLP, and does not constitute legal advice. It is intended to provide general information only. Please contact our lawyers if you have any specific queries.



Shu Yi Chye


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