Employers may be prosecuted, face harsher penalties for discriminatory hiring practices: Manpower Minister

Ban may extend to up to 24 months in "the most egregious cases"

Source: CNA

Amendments to the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) will see employers potentially facing prosecution in court and other harsh penalties for discriminatory hiring practices, including those involving making false declarations on fair hiring consideration.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Tue (14 Jan) warned that employers found guilty of engaging in workplace discrimination will not be permitted to apply for new work passes for a minimum of 12 months, which is an extension of the previous six months.

In the “most egregious cases”, she stressed that the period of debarment may extend to up to 24 months.

“This will mean stronger deterrence against workplace discrimination of any kind. More importantly, it sends a clear signal about the need for fairness at work,” she told participants at the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Salesforce Platform Professionals’ graduation ceremony today.

Changes made to the framework have already come into effect earlier this month, which saw a logistics company in Singapore being the first company to be charged in court for making a false declaration in an Employment Pass (EP) application, by stating that it had properly considered Singaporean candidates before employing a foreigner.

Those found guilty of false declaration under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act may be jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$20,000, or both.

Under the FCF, employers are required to advertise job openings for positions with a monthly salary of under S$15,000 on the national Jobs Bank for a minimum of 14 days before opting to apply for an Employment Pass for a foreigner.

Mrs Teo noted that a 12-month ban would result in companies not being able to renew or replace around a third to half of their foreign workforce, given that work passes are valid for two to three years.

Companies subjected to a 24-month ban will not be permitted to renew nearly all of the firm’s work passes or to hire new foreign workers within the period of the ban. Consequently, companies will have to hire Singaporeans in order to be able to continue their operations.

While instances of discriminatory hiring practices are declining, according to Mrs Teo, there are employers who have chosen to remain errant of the law, which resulted in the stiffer penalties introduced in the framework recently.

“Most employers have adapted and it is timely now to turn our attention to weed out the minority, that still think they can treat the FCF job advertising requirement as a paper exercise,” she said.

The FCF was introduced in Aug 2014 to combat workplace discrimination. It came into effect following the decline of new foreign talent into the country after Singaporeans expressed dissatisfaction over the influx of foreign talent into Singapore occupying PMET positions.

The Ministry of Manpower earlier this month announced that the Framework will be updated this year to ensure that Singaporean workers are not discriminated against in favour of foreign talent.

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