Supporting businesses in ending workplace discrimination

The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) was set up in 2014 by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to ensure that Singaporeans are hired based on merit, and are not overlooked in favour of foreigners when it comes to hiring employees.

It was set up to address concerns of discriminatory hiring, after anxieties about the influx of immigrants surfaced following a liberalisation of immigration policy in the few years prior. 

Singaporeans alleged that they were being unfairly displaced by employers who displayed a preference towards hiring foreigners.

The FCF has been expanded to cover race, gender, age and nationality in its efforts to combat workplace disrcimination.

In 2016, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) watchlist, which comprises the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), the Singapore government and the Singapore National Employment Federation (SNEF), was set up to identify and monitor companies that have possibly breached the FCF.

During a parliamentary sitting on 13 October 2022, Minister of Manpower Tan See Leng revealed that 300 employers have been placed on the FCF watchlist from 2017 to 2021 for allegedly breaching the FCF, with more than 1,700 companies placed on the list since 2016.

Employees that have a high proportion of foreign Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) compared to their industry peers, or a disproportionately high number of a single foreign nationality source will also be placed on the FCF watchlist.

Engaging employers to diversify their workforce

TAFEP will reach out to employers whose firms are on the FCF watchlist to support them in improving their hiring practices.

The Singapore government has made significant strides in curbing workplace discrimination – in  August 2021, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Tafep anti-discrimination guidelines will become the law

These guidelines, which were created in 2007, will give authorities the option to penalise errant employers, a testament to the government’s zero tolerance towards discriminatory hiring.

The PME Taskforce, which is a partnership between SNEF and NTUC, also launched a series of guidelines for employers when it comes to tackling workplace discrimination.

That same month PME TF came up with recommendations to guide employers toward a fairer workplace and a more robust local workforce.

They include:

  1. Enhancing fair employment practices through improving HR standards and strengthening enforcement of errant companies that adopt unfair practices.
  2. Strengthening the Singaporean core through differentiating foreign worker access by occupations, enhancing the Employment Pass application review process, and facilitating skills transfer to local PMEs.
  3. Widening support for PMEs by setting up a tripartite workgroup to review the current legislation on PME’s union representation.  

NTUC has found that while PMEs make up six in 10 of employees, only 10 to 15 percent of PMEs are represented by unions

It has made concerted efforts to encourage more PMEs to join NTUC for stronger union representation in the workplace.

In April 2021, the PME TF announced that it had reached out to more than 8,000 PMEs to identify their concerns, and found that job security and lack of employment opportunities were the main worries of the PMEs.

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