The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) have released the 2019-2020 Employment Standards Report today (19 Nov), covering the period from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020 (1.5 years).
The report highlighted that in the first half of this year, TAFEP investigated about 260 cases of possible discriminatory hiring practices, up from about 160 for the same period in 2019.
MOM has also suspended the work pass privileges of about 70 employers for discriminatory hiring practices in the first half of the year – a “significant increase” from 35 employers in the whole of 2019.
Majority of the companies caught with discriminatory hiring practices came through complaints received by MOM and TAFEP.
The report also said that since 2016, MOM has been “proactively identifying” employers with a higher share of foreign professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) compared to industry peers, or those with a “high concentration of a single foreign nationality source”.
These employers are then placed on the FCF watchlist, with their employment pass applications held back while TAFEP helps them improve their human resource practices. Since 2016, more than 1,200 employers have been scrutinised under the FCF, the report mentioned.
In any case, the report acknowledged that perceptions of discrimination by the public appear to have been going up, based on a ministry survey in 2018.
Company caught pre-selecting foreign candidate thanks to whisleblower
Indeed, it is usually very difficult to root out companies practising discriminatory hiring without the help of whistleblowers. Last month, the media published an article featuring how TAFEP caught an offending company with the help of an insider (‘Firm found guilty of pre-selecting foreigner for job gets only 6 mths suspension of work pass privileges‘).
The company, a finance and insurance company, was caught pre-selecting a foreign candidate for a managerial role at its Singapore office, after a whisleblower who is the firm’s human resources manager filed a complaint with TAFEP against the company.
It was found that while the company posted a job advertisement on the national Jobs Bank for the minimum period of 14 days as stipulated under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), the company went on to sign an employment contract with the pre-selected foreign applicant even before the job advertisement on the Jobs Bank had expired.
Furthermore, it was found that the work experience and educational qualifications of the pre-selected foreigner, a British national based at the company’s London office, also did not meet the advertised requirements.
The advertisement received more than 60 applications, with 28 fulfilling the advertised requirements, but none of the applicants were invited for interviews. The case was subsequently referred to MOM but MOM decided to suspend the work pass privileges of the offending firm for only 6 months.
To encourage more people to whisleblow against offending companies, perhaps MOM should consider instituting a reward system to award the whisleblowers.