The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices
(TAFEP) has received less than 80 complaints over the past 5 years for discrimination on race, religion or language.
This was a sign that TAFEP’s approaches had worked well, Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health, told Parliament yesterday.
Last year, a total of nine companies were investigated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Out of these, one faced a stern warning and was placed on the MOM’s watchlist while the remaining eight had their work pass privileges curtailed for six months or more.
When asked whether these measures were enough, Khor responded that most companies employ a large number of foreign workers so “curtailing work pass privileges would actually be very serious for them”.
Most employers contacted by TAFEP after a complaint had been issued against them had responded positively, Khor said. They had removed the offending advertisements, refined the wording found within or improved their HR processes in order to comply with instructions from the MOM.
Only a “small minority” were referred to the MOM for further enforcement, she said.
Complaints about discrimination make up only a small fraction of those brought to TAFEP. Instead, issues with a lack of fair opportunities towards Singaporeans were the most common problems brought forward with the Alliance handling up to 238 cases over the past three years.
Susan de Silva, partner at Bird & Bird and employment law specialist, said that the TAFEP guidelines issued clear standards that employers should follow and highlighted the following clause:
“[Race] should not be a criterion for selection of job candidates… Selection based on race is unacceptable and job advertisements should not feature statements like ‘Chinese preferred’ or ‘Malay preferred’.”
The employer benefits by following these guidelines as well, she explained. “Such well-framed job ads ensure the job requirements are well understood, expand the range of eligible candidates and avoid negative perceptions of the employer.”
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