A Few Facts About Workplace Discrimination in Singapore

In response to questions during a recent Parliament meeting in Singapore, concerning discriminatory practices in the workplace, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck mentioned some facts about such cases in Singapore.

In his response, Mr. Teo referred to numbers reported by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).  According to the numbers, between 2011 and 2015 the average number of complaints about workplace discrimination was 400 per year, with 30 of those complaints (~8%) related to race or religion each year.

When asked about the nature of the complaints, Mr Teo noted that the majority of the complaints about discrimination were related to “unfair hiring practices.” Those hiring practices included mostly discriminatory job advertisements or inappropriate questions asked during job interviews.  The remainder of complaints concerned in-employment issues: such as poor grievance handling and company policies/practices being conveyed in a less than sensitive manner.

A total of 10 employers were warned about race or religion based discrimination, and work pass privileges of 12 employers had been curtailed, according to Mr. Teo.

The question of current measures and enforcement powers, and their effectiveness was also raised, especially the ability of the TAFEP to enforce mandates among companies that were not dependent on work passes for their employees.

Mr. Teo noted that the multi-faceted approach taken by TAFEP had produced relatively stable results due to the penalties and advisory work undertaken by the alliance.  His comments also mentioned the follow-up efforts of TAFEP to ensure that discrimination complaints are not repeated, while also noting that discriminatory practices cannot be eliminated entirely – no matter how diligent efforts are.

Mr. Teo’s final remarks on the subject noted that TAFEP has promised to, not only increase public education campaigns related to diversity, but is also vowing to ensure that future hiring practices are focused on fairness and merit, by intensifying training for relevant employer representatives.

As an employee in Singapore, in case you need to make a complaint about discrimination in the workplace (relating to gender, age, religion, race, marital status or disability), please refer to the TAFEP website and also their complaint submission/handling procedure.

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