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Firms and employment agencies must consider Singaporean jobseekers fairly

  • The Straits Times (30 March 2018): Public service can take lead in helping Singaporeans find jobs

Firms and employment agencies must consider Singaporean jobseekers fairly
- The Straits Times, 23 April 2018

  1. We refer to the letter “Public service can take lead in helping Singaporeans find jobs” of March 30 in which Mr Terence Lim raised issues regarding the role of employment agencies (EA) and the conduct of his former employer.
  2. Employment agencies are expected to uphold the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. Should their clients directly or indirectly ask them to practise discriminatory recruitment practices, the EA owes them a duty of care to advise them that this is unlawful.
  3. We urge persons who have reason to suspect such unlawful behaviour to report them to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). To safeguard the interests of job seekers, MOM will not hesitate to investigate EAs which are reported to have assisted any employer with unfair recruitment practices, even if these were carried out at the request of their clients.
  4. Last year, MOM investigated 27 employment agencies for discriminatory employment practices, of which 20 were issued with demerit points for placing discriminatory job advertisements in the course of performing employment agency work. In the remaining cases, MOM investigations found that there had been misunderstandings or valid mitigating factors.
  5. Employers who claim that the salary criteria for Employment Pass and S Pass force them to pay foreigners more than locals are being disingenuous. This is because the salary criteria take reference from the salaries of local PMETs. Such an attitude violates the spirit of the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices and invites scrutiny under the Fair Consideration Framework.
  6. We note Mr Lim’s interest to join the public service. The vast majority of public sector employees are Singaporeans and recruitment is based primarily on assessment of job-fit. Mr Lim is welcome to contact MOM’s or NTUC-e2i’s CareersConnect centres for further assistance and advice.

Mr Then Yee Thoong
Divisional Director
Labour Relations and Workplaces Division
Ministry of Manpower

Ms Low Peck Kem
Chief HR Officer and Senior Director
CHRO Office and Workforce Development
Public Service Division

 Public service can take lead in helping Singaporeans find jobs
- The Straits Times, 30 March 2018

  1. I read the joint letter of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) and the Manpower Ministry (MOM) with some concern (Firms adopting unfair employment practices will be placed on watchlist; March 29).
  2. During my meeting at the MOM about the issues I raised, I specifically stated two important points.
  3. First, the employment agency in fact acted in my interest and should not be penalised.
  4. By being honest in revealing that the real reason was that the hiring firm wanted only Japanese candidates, the agency saved me from pointless interviews as the firm would have simply ended up rejecting me with some ostensible excuse anyway.
  5. It is not reasonable to expect employment agencies to defy the instructions of their clients, who are actually the ones who are not prepared to consider Singaporeans for job positions on merit.
  6. Second, my former employer explained that foreigners needed to be hired for skills that locals did not possess; this does not constitute discrimination against willing and able Singaporeans.
  7. They also told me that they were just being truthful about having to pay foreigners more as the policy on salary eligibility criteria for work passes in effect forced them to do so.
  8. Perhaps, while improving the rules on employing foreigners, the public service can also lead the way for private companies to help Singaporeans first.
  9. I have applied for countless roles in the various government agencies ever since graduation but have received only one or two interviews in more than 10 years.