Understanding The Tripartite Guidelines On Fair Employment Practices & Fair Consideration Framework

Did you know that aside from the restrictions on foreign employment for Work Permits and S Pass holders, you also need to advertise on MyCareersFuture.sg before you hire a foreigner on Employment Pass? 

In the case where employers are being flagged for unfair hiring practices, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) can and has taken action by penalising employers for discriminatory hiring practices, by banning them from hiring foreign employees and not being to able to renew work passes of existing employees.

To avoid being caught in such a situation, companies need to understand and practise the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment as well as MOM’s Fair Consideration Framework.

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Tripartite Guidelines On Fair Employment Practices

The Tripartite Alliance For Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) has set out Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, which applies regardless of whether you are hiring locals or foreigners. Of the five principles, the one of relevance to hiring is:

Recruit and select employees on the basis of merit (such as skills, experience or ability to perform the job), and regardless of age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability.

Job Ads Need To Demonstrate A Fair And Consistent Criteria

In accordance to Tripartite Guidelines, you should use the competencies that the job requires as the criteria. Age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability should not be part of the job ad criteria.

What You Cannot Put In A Job AdWhat You Can Use Instead
Age E.g. “must be below 45 years old”, “young”, “youthful environment”.Physical requirements of the jobE.g. “must be able to lift and load 15 kg loads”, “must be able to handle heavy equipment”  
Race/ Ethnicity E.g. “Chinese preferred’’, ‘’Malay preferred’’ or “Chinese / Malay / Tamil speaking environment”.Language requirements of the jobE.g. “translator for a leading Chinese fashion magazine. Proficiency in Chinese is a must”, “tour guides for Japanese tourist groups. Knowledge of Japanese is essential”
Gender E.g. “Male preferred”, “female working environment” Reason for gender requirementE.g. “Health spa requires female therapists to do personal body massage and spa treatments for its female customers”
Religion E.g. “Christians preferred”Reason for religion requirementE.g “practicing Taoist to perform religious rites” or fulfil religious certification standards as part of the job requirements
Marital Status E.g. “Must not be married or have children”Marital status should not be a requirement for a job as jobs can be performed equally if the candidate has the competency. 

(Examples above adapted from TAFEP’s Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices)

The Interview Process Needs To Demonstrate Fair Selection

Not only does your job ad not be discriminatory, you also need to demonstrate that you have fairly considered all candidates in the interview process. 

In the unfortunate case where you are investigated by MOM/ TAFEP for discriminatory practices, you need to produce evidence that you have given all candidates fair consideration. This means keeping a record of who you have interviewed and offered the job to

It is possible to be flagged for discriminatory practices even if you did not specify age in your job ad, but you only interviewed candidates who are below age 45, even though there are older candidates who have the similar qualifications. Another example is that a job ad for English teacher can be flagged as discriminatory, if only Caucasian candidates are interviewed, even though there are other applicants with English teaching certifications.

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The Job Needs To Be Open To Singaporeans

MOM’s emphasis is to develop a strong Singapore core workforce, and this is reflected in the Tripartite guidelines. Jobs advertised must be open to Singaporeans.

While Work Permits and S Passes are restricted as a proportion of the number of locals hired by a company, Employment Passes do not have this restriction. Instead, the Fair Consideration Framework is put in place to ensure that all candidates, including Singaporeans, are fairly considered for the jobs offered to foreigners. 

Fair Consideration Framework (FCF)

Under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), employers are required to advertise a job position on MyCareersFuture for 14 calendar days before they can apply for an Employment Pass (EP) for that position. This is ensure that all candidates are fairly considered and jobs are not just arbitrarily reserved for a candidate.

If there are any changes to the job ad pertaining to salary offered, occupation, number of vacancies available or the employing company, the job ad must be extended for another 14 calendar days before the employer can make an EP application.

Read Also: Singapore Employers’ Guide To Work Permits, S Pass and Employment Pass

Employers May Be Flagged For The FCF Watchlist Even If They Compiled With FCF

As an employer, even if you have abided by fair hiring practices, gave fair considerations during the interview process and compiled with the FCF for EP applications, it is possible to be flagged by MOM/ TAFEP and be placed on the FCF Watchlist.

MOM does monitor the overall proportion of foreign EP holders in a company. If the proportion is higher than your industry peers or if there is a high concentration of EP holders from a single nationality, it is possible for the company to be flagged for FCF Watchlist.

Penalties For Unfair Hiring

Companies on the FCF Watchlist are closely scrutinised during their hiring process, especially for positions that they have made EP applications. Companies on the watchlist may face additional intervention by TAFEP and longer EP processing times as their hiring process is scrutinised. 

MOM may impose harsher penalties such as banning the company from applying for new work passes (EP, work permits and S passes) as well as debarment from work pass renewals. This can affect the company’s ability to retain their existing foreign staff as the duration for most work passes is 2 to 3 years. If the company is debarred from work pass renewals, it could affect one-third to half of their foreign staff. 

In addition, MOM can prosecute errant employers or key personnel who make false declarations that they have considered all candidates fairly. Employers convicted of false declaration under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act will face imprisonment of up to 2 years, or fine up to $20,000, or both.

Giving All Candidates A Chance Is The Key To Fair Hiring Practices

Hiring is the employer’s decision. The Tripartite Guidelines and Fair Consideration Framework are just government policies to guide employers to hire fairly.

Ultimately, it is up to the employer to give every candidate a fair chance to showcase themselves as a viable candidate and the candidate to prove that they are the right fit for the company. The question for every company is whether you are giving qualified candidates a fair chance.

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