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But when the company tried to discourage him from reing using threats and half-truths, he sought help from government authorities, only to have his complaints ignored. Nigel Chua January 25,AM. Editor's note on Jan. Displaced workers would be able to apply for over 40, new jobs and 30, skills-training vacancies, while fresh graduates could look into applying for 25, traineeships. More than a thousand employers offered traineeships under the scheme, in response to government encouragement, which included generously sponsoring 80 per cent of training allowances.
Amid hiring freezes and a glum economic outlook, the traineeships offered job-seekers industry experience in their field of choice, as well as competitive training allowances — the next-best thing to a full-time job, and a ificant step up from what a typical internship would offer in terms of length of experience or remuneration. Which is why two months after starting his traineeship, Michael not his real name tendered his reation to his supervisor after finding full-time employment, only to be given a rude shock. Michael's training agreement contains strict non-disclosure requirements, which is why he requested that Mothership keep him anonymous, for fear of potential legal repercussions from the company.
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In hindsight, this in itself was a "red flag" which, he admits, he did not pay close attention to initially. The traineeship contract that he ed with the company was for a year. Michael says that he was also asked to compensate the company for the remaining months in the contract — a point that was anyway denied by the company in later correspondence.
In spite of that threat, Michael proceeded to send an official reation letter viaand — to be doubly sure — mailed a copy to the company's HQ. The reply he received reiterated the company's rejection of his reation, and piled on other discouragements.
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It was clear enough to Michael that the company was keen to minimise turnover, especially since his role was one that involved regular client interaction. He was even threatened with the prospect of a "written complaint" that the company had allegedly received from a prospective client about how he handled their inquiries, though he never received a copy of the complaint or more information about what it supposedly said, despite requesting for it.
Backed up by the advice of friends who are lawyers, Michael is sure that these are empty threats. As long as he served out his contractually-agreed one-month notice period, he knew that he would be covered. Which is why his reaction to being told he could not re was not fear, but disappointment — in the company, and in the way they tried to discourage him from reing.
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The said that if he was looking for a job, he should not have applied for a traineeship and deprived another applicant of the place, and suggested that his early departure would disadvantage him in his future interactions with "all" government agencies. Michael felt that this was a misrepresentation of the traineeship and various government agencies, and so he copied the Singapore Business Federation — the government's " appointed programme manager " for the SG United Traineeships — in his reply, hoping that they would pick up on the company's unbecoming conduct, and intervene somehow.
He also attached a copy of the official traineeship FAQsciting the fact that it said rather sbf seeking s meet up for singapore that "trainees can leave the traineeships at any point in time, if there are good reasons to do so e.
It was not the first time Michael had felt disappointment at his employer's behaviour, and would not be the last. In fact, that marked the start of a frustrating two-month long process of trying to serve out his notice period and to get the company to pay his final training allowance. He had been awaiting further confirmation after ing the employer's traineeship agreement, only to be surprised by a call from them in Septemberinforming him that his traineeship was confirmed, and asking him to report to the office on that very day.
Eager to start off on the right foot, Michael agreed, and rushed down to meet his supervisor for the first time. When he arrived, his supervisor thrust a bundle of documents at him, gave him a cursory briefing, and then instructed him to start serving clients who had appointments on that very day. That brief interaction would be the closest thing to any "training" that Michael would receive at his traineeship. But even with this attitude, Michael was taken aback by how he was left to his own devices with actual clients, from the first day of his traineeship.
Michael was soon required to be — in his words — a "one man show", with basically unlimited latitude as to how to meet with and serve the company's clients.
And while his traineeship agreement came with a copy of a "development plan" in its annexes, laying out the training and exposure that he would supposedly acquire, Michael says: "I didn't learn anything stated in the development plan. Bewildered as Michael was by the employer's behaviour in trying to bully him into staying with them, he simply decided not to engage with them any longer, and stopped replying any s from the management relating to his reation. Besides interacting with his clients, he reduced his vocabulary to "yes", "no", and "noted" when speaking to his supervisor or other staff at his workplace.
Aside from the fact that the company never acknowledged his reation, he got through his final month without too much difficulty, since after all, his supervisor hardly showed up at work.
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In that final month, Michael continued to perform the tasks required of him, but admits that "[his] mindset did change a bit," and started to be more selective about which tasks he would give per cent effort. Putting aside the rushed start he had, where "everything was on the fly", Michael does not think that he was underpaid — in his view, his tasks and hours did match up to the amount he received as an allowance.
So what might have stopped the company from advertising the same job, with the same pay, as a full-time position instead? Some key differences between a traineeship and a full-time position is the 80 per cent subsidy on the training allowance payable to a trainee by the company, and the fact that employers are not required to make CPF contributions.
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Benefits such as leave are non-obligatoryand up to the company to extend, "on a discretionary goodwill basis". In other words, it is a lot cheaper for a company to take in a trainee as compared to a full-time worker. During his last month at the company, Michael sought clearer directions from government agencies involved.
Michael sought advice on his situation from Ministry of Manpower MOM shortly after submitting his reation, in hopes that they would be able to back him up and make it easier for him to leave the traineeship. However, traineeship contracts, Michael would discover, are not covered under the Employment Act, meaning that he was not able to rely on MOM's advice for contract terminationwhich laid out clear parameters for an employee in his situation.
While employers are "obliged to accord statutory benefits prescribed under the Act to an intern", MOM said intrainees do not have the same protection, and are not considered employees. Michael would read in The Straits Times — some time after the last day of his traineeship — that SBF promised to take cases of potential abuse of the traineeships "seriously"in a forum letter published on Jan. SBF said:. This did not give Michael much assurance. Rather, it came off as jarring, since it did not seem to line up with his experience at all.
He explains that a few weeks after the contentious exchange with his company, he received a call from someone at SBF seeking his side of the story and explaining that SBF would also need to get the company's of the facts, before following up. By his last day, he had not heard back, and wrote SBF an seen by Mothership which summarised the whole debacle — including his suspicion that the company was misusing the funds set aside for the traineeship to fill what was essentially a full-time position, and a detailed of how the company had tried to stop him from leaving.
s from SBF requested administrative information such as the dates when he reported to work for the agency to follow up on the matter of his unpaid allowance, but appeared to show no interest in looking into Michael's complaints about the company.
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Michael subsequently called SBF to follow up, only to be told that he should take his issues to the "higher management" of his company. Shortly after that, he received another from SBF, informing him that "there are no outstanding disputes". In the meantime, Michael continued to see advertisements for similar traineeships under the company on the mycareersfuture website. Michael was eventually paid his outstanding allowance, more than a month after his last day at the company in December.
But the monetary compensation did not go far in assuaging his concerns about how the traineeship programme is being handled, given how the company "got off the hook just like that". While Michael had the benefit of advice from lawyer friends, he wonders how someone else — perhaps less connected, or less wary — would react if their traineeship employer resorts to "guilt-tripping" them into staying on for the rest of the traineeship.
In a t statement on Jan. MOM found that the company was unwilling to accept Michael's reation as they were concerned about filling the vacancy. If you like what you read, follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Telegram to get the latest updates. January 30,PM. Trainees are allowed to leave the traineeships at any point in time as long as they provide sufficient notice.
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