The Government’s approach to tackling workplace discrimination is through education and enforcement. We actively correct stereotypes and change employers’ mindsets, and do not hesitate to act against errant employers. When members of the public report possible discrimination, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) investigates and refers errant employers to MOM for enforcement. 

We have stepped up on efforts to combat workplace discrimination over the years. 

TAFEP was set up in 2006 to educate the public and employers; 

  • The Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP) was launched shortly after to guide employers on adopting fair hiring practices. 

In 2014, we introduced the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) to specifically target discrimination against locals;

  • The FCF Watchlist was introduced in 2016 to proactively identify employers with indications of discriminatory hiring practices.  
  • We look out for employers with exceptionally high share of foreign PMETs compared to industry peers, or high concentrations of single nationalities.
  • Employers on the FCF Watchlist will have all of their Employment Pass applications scrutinised or withheld. 

Most employers understand the need to hire on merit. The employment rates of groups such as older workers and women have gone up over the years, and discriminatory job advertisements are now rare. 

However, a minority of employers continue to breach fair hiring requirements. 

The Government takes firm action to weed out these recalcitrant employers. In January 2020, the penalties were raised for all forms of workplace discrimination (including age, race, nationality and mental health condition): 

Discriminatory employers will not be allowed to hire new foreign workers or renew existing foreign workers for a minimum period of 12 months, and up to a maximum of 24 months. 

  • Since work passes last for two to three years, a 24-month ban means that the employer cannot renew up to all of the existing foreign workers, and also cannot hire new foreign workers.
  • This means that if employers want to continue their operations in Singapore, they would have to hire locals.

In addition, MOM will prosecute employers and key personnel who make false declarations on fair consideration. If convicted, they could face up to 2 years of imprisonment, fined up to $20,000, or both. 

Members of the public who encounter workplace discrimination should report it to TAFEP. 

In the investigations, MOM will hold culpable key decision makers responsible, whether it is the CEO, Chief HR Officer, or line managers. MOM is prepared to name them publicly, and revoke their work passes if they are foreigners.

MOM has also started to use data analytics to scrutinise Employment Pass applications. If we uncover evidence that an employer had pre-selected a foreign candidate and did not give fair consideration to local applicants, MOM will reject the Employment Pass application and ban the employer from hiring or renewing foreign workers. 

Given that many employers rely on employment agencies (EAs) to fill vacancies, MOM will be introducing new licence conditions for EAs with effect from 1 October 2020. Under these new licence conditions, EAs will be required to comply with the fair recruitment requirements set out in the TGFEP when recruiting on behalf of their clients.

In addition to helping their clients fulfil job advertising requirements, EAs must also:

  • Brief their clients on the fair recruitment requirements in the TGFEP; 
  • Make reasonable efforts to attract Singaporeans for vacancies that they are trying to fill, except where the employer undertakes to do so through other channels; and 
  • Consider all candidates based on merit.

EAs that fail to comply with licence conditions may be issued with demerit points, have their licence suspended or revoked, or face prosecution.

The Government will continue to work together with our tripartite partners to deter workplace discrimination, and build fair and progressive workplaces for all Singaporeans.