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Efforts made to protect older workers from age discrimination

  • TODAY (8 December 2016): Efforts made to protect older workers from age discrimination
  • TODAY (1 December 2016): Specific anti-discrimination laws needed to ensure fair rehiring of older PMETs

Efforts made to protect older workers from age discrimination 

- TODAY, 8 December 2016

  1. We refer to Mr Edmund Khoo’s letter “Specific anti-discrimination laws needed to ensure fair rehiring of older PMETs” (Dec 1).
  2. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) takes a serious view of age discrimination in the workplace. Under the Retirement and Re-employment Act, it is unlawful for employers to dismiss employees who are below 62 years old on grounds of age.
  3. Employees who feel that they have been so dismissed should approach the MOM for advice and assistance as soon as possible.
  4. That said, the key to eliminating discrimination is to root out biased mindsets, and effective tools for achieving this go beyond legislation.
  5. To this end, the MOM works with employers and unions through the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), which promotes the employability of older workers and raises awareness of the value that older workers bring to the workplace.
  6. Implementing such practices widens the pool of candidates that employers can recruit from, increasing their chances of finding the best person for the job.
  7. Our approach goes beyond a promotional one. We expect all employers to abide by the principles of fair and merit-based employment outlined in the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.
  8. TAFEP plays an active role in looking into discrimination complaints and refers cases to the MOM for investigation where warranted. In deserving cases, the MOM would curb the work pass privileges of the offending company.
  9. Employees who feel that they have been unfairly treated in the workplace can approach TAFEP for advice and assistance.

Specific anti-discrimination laws needed to ensure fair rehiring of older PMETs

- TODAY, 1 December 2016

  1. Overall, there were 15,580 layoffs last year and for this year, the figure is projected to be higher. Among the 9,090 residents made redundant last year, more than seven in 10 were professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) and about 40 per cent of those laid off from PMET jobs are in their 40s.
  2. It is hardly surprising that PMETs are the most vulnerable group of workers since they cost their companies more to hire, possess skills that are more employer-specific and are less likely to re-enter the job market within a six-month period of being retrenched.
  3. Operating in a global economy that is harnessing new disruptive technologies can account for the deceleration of wages, off-shoring of job functions and, of course, loss of employment.
  4. While all companies — with the exception of micro enterprises — will have to notify the Ministry of Manpower of any retrenchment exercises from Jan 1 (“Firms must report layoffs to MOM from January”; Nov 26), older workers need more protection, especially in the current economic climate.
  5. Specific anti-discrimination laws may be needed since the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) adopts an educational approach to promoting fair employment practices.
  6. While undoubtedly beneficial for employers, this approach does not provide mature workers the protection they deserve, if they find it difficult to find new work or retain their jobs because of prejudice rather than performance.
  7. Companies argue that too much government protection may be bad for business. But such an assertion does not seem to hold true, given that the global competitiveness of places with anti-discrimination laws, such as the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Japan, Finland and Sweden, remains relatively stable.