Singapore is probing Exxon's labor practices after the oil giant used employee reviews to cut staff

  • Singapore's labor division, the Ministry of Manpower, is reviewing Exxon's labor practices after the oil giant used its performance review process to cut staff. 
  • "MOM is following up with Exxon Singapore to assess if they have implemented their performance management in a fair and reasonable manner,” the agency told Business Insider. 
  • The company changed its review process in April, following the crash in oil prices, putting a large number of employees at risk of being cut. 
  • Exxon is among the largest foreign investors in Singapore and it has about 4,500 workers in the country.
  • Do you have a tip about Exxon? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected] or through Signal at +1-646-768-1657.
  • For more stories like this, sign up here for our weekly energy newsletter.

Exxon Mobil is facing questions from the government of Singapore following complaints by employees that the company is misusing its performance review process to cut workers, months after the price of oil crashed. 

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Manpower, which oversees labor practices, confirmed to Business Insider that it's probing the company to "assess if they have implemented their performance management in a fair and reasonable manner." The probe was prompted by worker complaints, a spokesperson said.

Singapore is a hub for Exxon's downstream business and home to its largest refinery. The oil giant, headquartered in Irving, Texas, has about 4,500 workers in Singapore, according to the company. 

Business Insider previously reported that leaked documents show that Exxon adjusted its performance review process in April, forcing managers to dub as many as 10% of salaried workers poor performers, putting them at risk of getting cut. HR officials knew that not all workers in that category were, in fact, poor performers, audio from an internal meeting reveals.

Many of the world's top oil companies have cut staff in the months since the pandemic sapped fuel demand, driving the price of oil into the ground. While oil markets have recovered some ground since April, the price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, was down about 40% on Wednesday, relative to the start of the year. 

Casey Norton, an Exxon spokesperson, said the company is following "all applicable laws and regulations."

"The performance review process provides a fair and consistent approach to managing employees with lower relative or lower absolute performance," Norton said. "This is an annual process which has been in place for many years." 

Norton said the percentage of employees placed in the bottom performance category has been as high as 10% in previous years. 

Click here to subscribe to Insider Energy, Business Insider's weekly energy newsletter.

Kena Betancur/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

Exxon's performance cuts reach Singapore

One email sent to the labor ministry that Business Insider viewed came from a worker who was told she was a poor performer. The complaint cited Business Insider's previous reporting and claimed Exxon is using the performance-review process to cut staff. 

Read more: Internal documents, leaked audio, and 20 insiders reveal Exxon made managers dub more employees poor performers as the oil giant sought to quietly cut staff

"We are all extremely anxious and worried about our job security," the employee at Exxon, who was recently told she would have to resign or enroll in a three-month performance improvement plan, wrote in the email to Singapore's labor regulator.

The employee said she was told for years by her manager that she was a good performer and recently received a raise.

"Given the current employment situation in Singapore, we may potentially be jobless for the next 12 to 24 months and consequently find ourselves in dire financial straits," the employee said in the complaint.

The employee requested anonymity for fear of retaliation. Business Insider has verified the person's identity and their employment with Exxon Singapore. 

Exxon, one of Singapore's largest foreign investors, is considered a prestigious employer in the country, the employee said. Losing your job through a performance-based cut is a ding on your resume, she said, and it will make it harder to find new employment.

Exxon declined to comment on the number of workers in Singapore who are subject to performance-based cuts.

Beyond its performance review process, Exxon is weighing job cuts in high-cost locations around the world, citing the market downturn, which could include Singapore, as Business Insider previously reported. 

"Independent of the performance assessments, we have study work underway on a country-by-country basis to assess possible additional efficiencies to right-size our business and make it stronger for the future," Norton said. "Until that study work is complete, it would be premature to draw conclusions about Singapore or other countries."

Read more: A leaked memo reveals Exxon is weighing job cuts across its oil-production business because of 'prolonged negative market impacts'

Get the latest Oil WTI price here.

Get the latest ExxonMobil stock price here.

Source: Read Full Article