Majority of the suspected firms are from the financial and professional services sectors
Over 47 employers in Singapore are being monitored by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for suspected discriminatory hiring practices.
Up to 30 are from the financial and professional services sectors, such as banks and fund managers, as well as consulting firms. The companies were added to the Fair Consideration Framework watchlist, where the employment pass applications will be closely scrutinised.
“Those who are recalcitrant or uncooperative will have their work pass privileges cut back,” said MOM.
The ministry said that the 30 firms had a high concentration of PMETs from “single nationalities”. The remaining 17 employers are from various other sectors.
The 47 firms are a mix of large and small firms. The largest one employs close to 2,000 PMETs.
Additionally, another 240 firms were identified through data analytics for suspected pre-selection of foreigners for job roles or have failed to meet requirements of the framework. They will be investigated.
MOM shared that the latest additions to the watchlist had “exceptionally” high shares of foreign PMETs compared with their industry peers. For example, some had more than half their PMET employees made up of foreign hires.
“MOM does not tolerate unfair hiring practices,” said the ministry. “Employers who do not give locals a fair chance in hiring and promotion will face scrutiny and stiff penalties if found to have unfair hiring practices.”
Through years of employer engagement, MOM and TAFEP said some common reasons for bias hiring included:
- Employer ‘unfamiliar’ with skillsets of local jobseekers or government measures to help upskill hires
- Employer claimed they were unable to find local candidates with the required expertise or experience
- Others assumed locals lacked the necessary global exposure to effectively carry out multi-country functions
MOM had promised in January this year to ramp up efforts against discriminatory hiring practices. In a Facebook post, minister Josephine Teo wrote about a ‘rededication’ to strengthening fairness at the workplace as a “value and virtue”.
Besides stronger deterrence against errant employers, MOM will offer better support for committed employers.
“For jobseekers, fairness is when employers hire on merit,” Teo wrote. “When a job is advertised, there should be no closed ‘circle of friends’ who are favoured.
“When a person is the best candidate, gender, age, race, physical or past medical conditions should not be barriers.
“It is not only employees who want fairness at the workplace. Employers too, need to be treated fairly. Sometimes, disgruntled employees wrongly accuse them. They count on MOM to be fair investigators.”