Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to Parliamentary Question on Gender-related discrimination
NOTICE PAPER NO. 1595 OF 2019 FOR A SITTING ON OR AFTER 1 APRIL 2019
QUESTION NO. 1196 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
MP: Assoc Prof Walter Theseira
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) in each of the last three years, how many complaints of gender-related discrimination have been reported; (b) what is the breakdown of complaints by major reasons such as pregnancy, sexual harassment, unequal pay or work opportunities, or other gender-related reasons; and (c) what actions have been taken in category of complaints including any penalties meted out to employers.
- In the past three years, there were on average about 50 gender-related discrimination complaints reported to the Tripartite Alliance on Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) annually, constituting 12% of the total number of complaints each year. The vast majority of these 50 complaints related to employers specifying their preference for a particular gender in their recruitment advertisements. About half of these were substantiated following investigations; as a result, MOM imposed sanctions on the employers, such as curtailing their work pass privileges. For the rest, investigations did not substantiate the complaints.
- In the last three years, TAFEP received an average of about 10 workplace harassment complaints each year. For workplace harassment complaints which do not disclose a criminal offence, TAFEP notifies the employers and advises them to handle the complaint as an internal workplace matter by conducting an investigation, taking corrective actions and setting up mechanisms to handle future complaints appropriately, as outlined in the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP). All the employers so notified had conducted the necessary enquiries and instituted the appropriate corrective measures. Hence, TAFEP has not needed to impose any sanctions on employers for refusing to take action.
- MOM also received about 70 pregnancy-related dismissal appeals annually in the past three years. This includes appellants who felt that they were wrongfully dismissed or forced to resign, or denied of maternity benefits. The number of cases that were substantiated and resulted in compensation to the employees remained relatively stable at about 50 per year. The other 20 cases were either dismissed as they were not substantiated or withdrawn by the employees.
- MOM takes a serious view of workplace discrimination, including discrimination on the grounds of gender. We expect all employers to comply with our legislation, and abide by the principles of fair and merit-based employment practices outlined in the TGFEP. We urge all individuals who feel that they have been discriminated against to approach TAFEP and MOM for advice and assistance. MOM will not hesitate to take strong actions against errant employers.