Harsher penalties for employers with unfair hiring practices
Companies with discriminatory practices can face prosecution as FCF changes kick in
Employers who use unfair hiring practices will face stiffer penalties and even prosecution as the Ministry of Manpower tightens its Fair Consideration Framework (FCF).
The changes, which kicked in earlier this month, were announced by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo yesterday at the graduation ceremony for participants in the Professional Conversion Programme for Salesforce Platform Professionals at Suntec City.
This is the first time the FCF is being updated since it was introduced in 2014.
On the heels of the changes, a logistics firm became the first company to be charged with making a false declaration that it had considered local candidates for a job opening fairly before trying to employ a foreigner.
The FCF mandates that companies advertise openings for jobs paying below $15,000 a month on the national Jobs Bank for at least 14 days before applying for an Employment Pass for a foreigner.
Under the new framework, companies found practising any form of discrimination, including based on gender, age, mental conditions or nationality, will face a longer debarment duration.
Mrs Teo said that the minimum debarment period will be increased from six months to 12, up to a maximum of 24 months.
Debarment will also be expanded to include not just applications for new work passes, but also the renewal of existing ones.
Mrs Teo said that because the duration for most employment passes are between two to three years, companies who face debarment will likely have to let foreign employees go, should they be caught discriminating against local candidates.
"This will mean stronger deterrence against workplace discrimination of any kind. More importantly, it sends a clear signal about the need for fairness at work," she said.
In addition, employers and key personnel who make false declarations that they have considered all candidates fairly will also now be prosecuted in court.
Those found guilty of false declaration under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act may be jailed for up to two years, fined up to $20,000, or both.
Mr Martin Gabriel, senior consultant at human resource consultancy and training firm HRmatters21, believes the changes have bite.
"Foreign companies bringing in their own people as opposed to hiring local is common, with many merely going through the motions of posting job ads.
"These changes will show them that there is real punishment, and because there is risk of punitive action now, they are more likely to reconsider."
National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay posted on Facebook: "The harsher penalties will send a deterrent effect to would be and recalcitrant employers or businesses. The blacklisting and highlighting of specific companies is a positive move to send a strong signal to the errant company, the sector or industry and to the labour market as a whole."
Mrs Teo stressed that while foreign workers are welcome in Singapore, there needs to be measures to ensure the flow is managed and regulated, and opportunities are equal and fair.
She said: "With fairness as a foundation, we have the capacity to promote more progressive employment practices."