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Toh Yong Chuan
Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

Singapore

New MOM department to probe discrimination complaints

The Straits Times | Toh Yong Chuan | Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

The Fair Consideration Department, headed by a director-level senior official, will also "engage firms across different industry sectors to better understand their human resource practices and efforts to develop Singaporeans professionals, executives and managers (PMEs)", the ministry said in a blog post on Thursday.


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Here is the Fair Consideration Framework, explained on MOM's website:

The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) is part of the Government's overall effort to strengthen the Singaporean Core in the workforce. All employers doing business in Singapore are expected to consider Singaporeans fairly for job vacancies and to comply with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. They should put in place fair employment, hiring and staff development practices that are open, merit-based and non-discriminatory.

Advertising on the Jobs Bank

In support of the Fair Consideration Framework, from 1 August 2014, firms submitting Employment Pass (EP) applications (including for EP holders who are changing employers) are required to advertise their job vacancies on the Jobs Bank. The job advertisement must be open to Singaporeans, comply with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, and run for or at least 14 calendar days. Firms that submit EP applications prior to the close of the 14 day advertising period will not be able to proceed with their EP applications. After the advertising period, the firm can hire the most qualified candidate, regardless of nationality.

Advertising on the Jobs Bank will benefit both Singaporean job-seekers and employers, as it facilitates better matching of vacancies with job-seekers. Employers will have access to a larger pool of potential candidates and Singaporeans will have better visibility of job openings.

For practical reasons, these jobs are exempted from the advertising requirement:

1. Jobs in firms with 25 or fewer employees; or
2. Jobs that pay a fixed monthly salary of S$12,000 and above;
3. Jobs to be filled by intra-corporate transferees (ICTs). Under the World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO GATS), ICTs would refer to those holding senior positions in the organisation or have an advanced level of expertise; or
4. Jobs that are necessary for short-term contingencies (i.e. period of employment in Singapore for not more than one month)

MOM strongly encourages all firms to advertise their job vacancies, even if those jobs meet the requirement for exemption. Regardless of whether the job vacancies are exempted from the advertising requirement, firms found to have nationality-based or other discriminatory HR practices will face additional scrutiny from MOM and could have their work pass privileges curtailed.

Scrutiny for selected firms

MOM and other Government agencies will identify and engage firms that may have scope to improve their hiring and career development practices. These firms may include those that have a disproportionately low concentration of Singaporeans at the PME level compared to others in their industry, or subject to substantiated complaints of nationality-based or other discriminatory HR practices. Such firms will be asked to provide additional information to MOM, such as:

1. Organisation charts with nationality information;
2. Recruitment processes;
3. Staff grievance handling procedures;
4. Framework for staff progression; and
5. Plans to develop local internal staff to take on higher roles or reduce reliance on EP holders.

Firms with shortcomings in their HR practices will be required to propose and implement an action plan to address these shortcomings. The action plan should include a plan for the firm to attract, develop, and retain Singaporeans in their workforce over time. Uncooperative firms should expect greater scrutiny and a longer review period for their EP applications, and may have their work privileges curtailed.

Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) promotes the adoption of fair, responsible and progressive employment practices among employers, employees and the general public. It provides resources and consultation on Fair Employment Practices, and conducts training sessions for those who are interested to know how to improve their employment practices.

You may approach TAFEP (www.tafep.sg) for more information, including information on the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.

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