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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Strengthening Penalties For Companies That Discriminate Against Singaporeans In Hiring

Notice Paper No. 4 Of 2015 For The Sitting On 19 January 2015 Question No. 419 For Oral Answer

MP: Ms Foo Mee Har

To ask the Minister for Manpower whether sufficiently tough penalties are in place to deter companies from posting discriminatory job advertisements and unfairly replacing Singaporeans with foreigners.


  1. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) takes a firm stance against discriminatory employment practices. All employers are expected to consider Singaporeans fairly by complying with the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) and the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.
  2. MOM does not hesitate to take action against employers who are found to have discriminatory employment practices. Last year, MOM investigated and took action against 150 firms for having discriminatory employment practices. Some were given stern warnings while others had their work pass privileges curtailed for up to two years. We might also name and shame these employers. One example is Prime Gold International Ltd after investigations revealed that the firm discriminated against Singaporean employees by unfairly replacing them with foreigners. There has been a couple of high profile cases highlighted in the media recently. I would like to assure the House that my Ministry has looked into the cases and will take the necessary action when investigations are completed.
  3. Besides acting on complaints, we also proactively identify and engage firms with disproportionately low share of Singaporeans compared to other firms in their industry. We have identified some firms with shortcomings in their HR practices and required them to implement an action plan to address these shortcomings. We also scrutinise their work pass applications closely.
  4. However, enforcement alone cannot be the only way to address the issue of unfair and discriminatory employment practices. We have complemented our enforcement action with the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP)’s promotion and education efforts. Our current approach has worked well. Companies that were approached by MOM and TAFEP have generally responded positively and are supportive of upholding fair employment practices. For unresponsive and recalcitrant employers, we are prepared to take further action where necessary.
  5. To conclude, let me emphasise that there is no place for employment discrimination in Singapore and the current penalties in place are sufficient to deter such practices. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will review our approach if necessary.