Industry Insights

‘Significant increase’ in firms caught practicing in discriminatory hiring: MOM Report

Posted on 25/11/2020 by Paula Formantes


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 on 19th November 2020, covering the past period from 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020 (1.5 years).

TAFEP investigated about 260 cases of possible discriminatory hiring practices, up from about 160 for the same period in 2019, the report highlighted that in the first half of this year.

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 which were caught 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 which then is placed on the FCF watchlist.

Following that, employers will have their Employment Pass applications held back while TAFEP helps them improve their human resource practices.

Since 2016, more than 1,200 employers have been scrutinized under the FCF, and that perceptions of discrimination by the public appear to have been going up, based on a ministry survey in 2018, the report mentioned.

The company caught pre-selecting foreign candidate thanks to a whistleblower

It is usually very difficult to root out companies practicing 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.

The company, a finance and insurance company, was caught pre-selecting a foreign candidate for a managerial role at its Singapore office, after a whistleblower who is the firm’s Human Resources Manager filed a complaint with TAFEP against the company.

Which was found that 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),  but, 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.

In addition to that, 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 whistle-blow against offending companies, perhaps MOM should consider instituting a reward system to award the whistleblowers.

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