Organisations which discriminate over race or religion have hiring powers restricted
Author: PM editorial | Date: 27 Jul 2016
“Singapore should not condone discrimination of any form,” says minister of state
Employers in Singapore who discriminate against current or potential staff because of race or religion are seeing their ability to hire foreign workers restricted, according to the government.
In a recent session of parliament, several questions were put to the minister of state for manpower, Teo Ser Luck, about workplace discrimination and how it is being tackled.
Teo pointed out that in the past two years, a dozen employers were punished with “curtailed work pass privileges” and another 10 were given an official warning. In Singapore, the work pass (or employment pass) allows suitably qualified foreign professionals to work in the country.
He also pointed to a 2014 survey conducted by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), in which two out of three organisations claimed they implement fair employment practices and the rest had plans to do so.
The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) was cited as an advocate and champion for fair employment practices but Teo said that before 2014, TAFEP had been operating in a mostly advisory role. Since then, “stronger action” has been taken against complaints of workplace discrimination.
The minister went on to say that between 2011 and 2015, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and TAFEP received an average of 400 complaints of alleged discrimination at work. But fewer than 10 per cent related to race or religion, with the majority concerning unfair hiring practices, such as inappropriate questions during job interviews or in-work practices, such as poor grievance handling.
Responding to MP Zaqy Mohamad’s question about what the MOM can do to encourage employers to embrace diversity and inclusivity, Teo said: “TAFEP will step up its public education campaign to make people more conscious and sensitive in embracing diversity in a multiracial workforce. TAFEP will also ramp up training for HR practitioners to ensure recruitment and selection is based on the principles of fair and merit-based hiring, and publicise best practices in this area.
“Singapore is a multiracial and meritocratic society. We should not condone discrimination of any form, including race and religion, in the workplace.”