Mrs Roslyn Ten, General Manager of TAFEP

Public member complains about discriminatory treatments but TAFEP asks her to “engage her employer”

Last Thu (14 Mar), a member of the public, Ms Tan Wei Ling wrote to Strait Times Forum complaining about discriminatory treatments received by those workers on flexi-work scheme in her company.

Ms Tan revealed that she has been on a flexi-work scheme for about 2 years now. She would go to office half an hour earlier and go off half an hour earlier too, in order for her to pick her kid up from school after work.

She said, “When my company first introduced the flexi-work scheme, there was a lot of disdain for those who took it up, due to the perception that we were enjoying benefits not available to other workers, even though anyone who had a valid reason could apply for the scheme.”

But the scheme also came with many conditions which make things difficult for those on the company’s flexi-work scheme, she added.

“These include having to seek re-approval from the boss every three months, with no guarantee of it being granted, and the monitoring of attendance via a biometric system,” she revealed.

“While I understand that the company is trying to protect its own interests, our work performance is no less than that of a regular worker.”

“Why treat us like second-class workers when we work the full hours?” she asked.

TAFEP: Go engage employer yourself with your concerns

Today (19 Mar), the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) set-up by the government replied on ST Forum.

Instead of intervening to help Ms Tan, Mrs Roslyn Ten, the General Manager of TAFEP, told Ms Tan to settle her own problems herself.

The TAFEP GM told Ms Tan to go “engage her employer on her concerns so as to work out a mutually agreeable arrangement”.

The GM started her reply with a lot of the run-of-the-mill answers. She said, “Work-life programmes achieve a mutually beneficial outcome – a company can attract and retain talent, and employees are able to effectively manage work responsibilities alongside their personal and family needs.”

“The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) has been working closely with employers to implement work-life programmes, and we have seen good progress in recent years,” the GM added. “Indeed, more companies now recognise the value of, and make available, such programmes.”

“But for these programmes to succeed, there must be open discussion between supervisors and their staff on the needs of employees and the organisation,” she shared.

“Such discussions can include how work targets can continue to be met, the impact on other employees and how performance will be measured. We encourage Ms Tan to engage her employer on her concerns so as to work out a mutually agreeable arrangement.”

The GM added that “if required”, TAFEP would be “happy to advise and work with her and her employer to improve the company’s work-life programmes”.

The GM seems to have missed the point. Ms Tan has accused her company of allegedly treating workers on flexi-work scheme like “second-class workers” with its discriminatory practices but the TAFEP GM asked Ms Tan to go “engage her employer” instead.

It begs the question why the government even bothers to set-up TAFEP in the first place.