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Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo to PQ on Watchlist for Workplace Harassment

NOTICE PAPER NO. 1989 OF 2020 FOR SITTING ON 18 FEBRUARY

QUESTION NO. 1600 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

NMP: Assoc Prof Walter Theseira

To ask the Minister for Manpower for each year in the last three years (a) how many employers have been the subject of complaints regarding workplace harassment; (b) whether the Ministry has set up a watchlist or other measures to identify employers who have not dealt adequately with workplace harassment; (c) how many employers have been placed on such a watchlist, if it exists; and (d) how many employers on such a watchlist have received training or other help from TAFEP and successfully exited the watchlist. 

Answer

  1. With greater awareness following the global #MeToo movement in late 2017, and TAFEP’s establishment of a help & resource centre for managing workplace harassment in 2019, we have seen more reports of workplace harassment where employers have been the subject of such complaints

Reports of worplace harassment received by TAFEP where employers have been the subject of complaints

  2017 2018  2019  Total
 Number of Reports  0  9  13  22
  1. In each of these cases, the employer had not properly followed up on allegations of workplace harassment. TAFEP engaged the employer to educate and ensure they implement measures in the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Workplace Harassment, including asking the employer to re-investigate the complaint, where necessary. Specifically in one of these 22 cases, as the employer was alleged to have verbally harassed the complainant, TAFEP additionally advised the employer to be more mindful of his behaviour and respectful when engaging his staff. So far, all the employers that TAFEP engaged have been cooperative and receptive to their advice.
  2. A watchlist allows MOM to monitor specific workforce metrics of employers suspected of errant behaviours to see if they have improved their employment practices. However, workplace harassment complaints typically involve specific incidents and persons. There are no clearly identifiable metrics to monitor. A watchlist approach is therefore impractical. Instead, MOM’s policy is to revoke the work pass privileges of egregious offenders, such as employers who fail to provide a safe environment for employees or refuse to improve their grievance handling processes. So far, we have not encountered a case of such severity.