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MOM looking into agency's practices

  • TODAY (16 January 2013) : MOM looking into agency's practices
  • TODAY (04 January 2013) : Protect jobseekers' personal data from scams

MOM looking into agency's practices
- TODAY, 16 January 2013

  1. We refer to the letter ("Protect jobseekers' personal data from scams", 4 January).
  2. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) thanks Ms Tan Pei Ying for bringing to our attention the recruitment practices of a finance-related company which was allegedly collecting personal data when interviewing prospective candidates.
  3. As the company concerned also holds an employment agency licence, we share Ms Tan's concern on such practices. MOM is looking into the matter and will not hesitate to take action if there is evidence of any breach of employment agencies laws. We are also in contact with Ms Tan on the matter.
  4. All employers and employment agencies operating in Singapore are expected to abide by the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, which clearly outlines that they should only ask for information relevant to assessing an applicant’s suitability for a job in application forms. Similarly, interview questions should be confined to those relevant to assessing an applicant’s suitability.
  5. We urge members of the public to exercise prudence in revealing personal information for all transactions. They should share the information only if they are satisfied with the purpose for data collection and the safeguards taken to protect such information.

Protect jobseekers' personal data from scams
- TODAY, 04 January 2013

I am a final-year undergraduate who received a call recently from a finance related company claiming to seek interviews with potential candidates based on profiles obtained via varsity career fairs and job portals.

I attended the interview as scheduled. During the session, though, I was asked questions that bore no relevance to a job but were skewed towards obtaining information on my insurance needs.

These included: Do you stay with your parents? How old are they? What is the size of your flat?" My replies were taken down on a job application form I was asked to fill in at the interviewer's office.

When I queried on the necessity of such questions, the reply from the company, which claimed to be a subsidiary of a certain bank here, was that these were just some things it likes to ask.

Feeling uncomfortable that the data was obtained for seemingly commercial purposes rather than recruitment, I approached the Consumers Association of Singapore. But it could not take action as this did not involve a sale transaction.

While I am glad that the bank concerned and the Monetary Authority of Singapore have since responded on the matter, perhaps the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) could advise on its stand pertaining to such fraudulent recruitment practices.

What channels are available to jobseekers in such situations? How would the MOM address the issue of companies using recruitment to obtain private information for commercial uses?

While the Personal Data Protection Act, which took effect on Wednesday, is a step forward in consumer protection, there are grey areas where more can be done in the interim, as enforcement will kick in only next year.

Consumers face difficulties and inconveniences seeking rectification as exemplified above. Redress channels are almost non-existent if not dispersed across regulating bodies.

It would be sad if individuals, especially genuine jobseekers, are left to market forces and subjected to such job scams by mercenary businesses, in an already merciless employers' market.