Are you doing enough to end workplace harassment?

It is unknown how many firms here have a formal policy in place

Are you doing enough to end workplace harassment?

Since January, more than 960 companies in Singapore have adopted recommended practices to handle workplace grievances.

However, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has not tracked the number of employers who have taken up measures to manage sexual harassment under the Tripartite Advisory for Managing Workplace Harassment.

Nominated Member of Parliament Professor Walter Theseira called upon MOM to start monitoring whether employers have an explicit policy defining harassment and detailing how cases will be dealt with. He also asked whether training is provided to employees on how to prevent and respond to harassment.

“If we're not putting in some effort to try to track, for example, the number of employers who are adhering to these guidelines, we would find it difficult to say anything credibly about how well we're addressing these concerns,” Theseira said.

The advisory is not tracked as it only meant to provide guidance for employers and employees, said Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower and Education.

Additionally, it was a way for MOM to develop a pipeline for companies to eventually adopt the Tripartite Standard on Grievance Handling.

She explained that when evaluating whether an employer has taken adequate measures in response to a harassment complaint, MOM and TAFEP will assess whether the employer has implemented an effective procedure as well as the recommended measures for managing workplace harassment.

If the employer failed to address a case fairly, TAFEP will advise the employer to review the case again. TAFEP would also engage the employer to put in place the proper measures as outlined in the advisory to ensure better prevention and management of workplace harassment.

“For egregious cases where companies fail to provide a safe environment for their employees, MOM will take action against the company, including curtailing work passes,” she said.

The exchange was part of a debate on the new Protection from Harassment Act (Poha).

Separately, Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong also said that companies can apply for civil remedies under Poha, like protection orders, to protect employees from harassers and provide a safe working environment for their workers.

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