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Average of 379 workplace discrimination cases reported yearly, ‘inappropriate’ to count sick leave usage in staff appraisals: Tan See Leng

SINGAPORE — Each year, an average of 379 workplace discrimination complaints against employers were sent to the authorities between 2014 and the first half of this year, a third of which were found to have discriminatory practices, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said on Tuesday (Sept 14).

A majority of the 379 complaints received by the authorities on average each year involved discrimination against nationality, age, gender, race and language.

A majority of the 379 complaints received by the authorities on average each year involved discrimination against nationality, age, gender, race and language.

  • Out of the 379 complaints received on average each year, a third were referred to MOM after investigation
  • An average of 41 employers each year were taken to task for not keeping to guidelines on fair employment practices
  • Manpower Minister Tan See Leng gave the figuures in Parliament after a case involving Savills Property Management
  • He urged employers to not use the consumption of paid sick leave as a key performance indicator for staff members

 

SINGAPORE — An average of 379 workplace discrimination complaints against employers were sent to the authorities each year between 2014 and the first half of this year, and a third of which were found to have discriminatory practices, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said on Tuesday (Sept 14).

A majority of these complaints involved discrimination against nationality, age, gender, race and language, Dr Tan said in a written response to a parliamentary question filed by Mr Patrick Tay, Member of Parliament for Pioneer.

And on average, out of the 121 complaints that the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) referred to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for further investigation, 41 employers were taken to task by having their work pass privileges suspended, Dr Tan added.

The other two-thirds of complaints received by Tafep were not substantiated, and “the majority were misunderstandings, which were clarified and where both parties did not pursue the matter further”.

The update in Parliament came after Tafep told TODAY on Tuesday that it has referred Savills Property Management, a managing agent for Hillview Heights condominium, to MOM for a review of its work pass privileges.

The real estate firm had been the subject of four complaints this year alone for issuing tender documents containing discriminatory clauses, including the one for Hillview Heights. It later blamed “historical tender documentation language from 2000” for the lapse.

Such race- or age-based discrimination, of which Savills have been accused, could run afoul of the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices and the company may face a curtailment of the quota of work passes it needs to hire workers.

Dr Tan also gave a breakdown on Tuesday of the average number of complaints received each year from 2014 to the first half of 2021:

  • Nationality-based discrimination: 233

  • Age-based discrimination: 69

  • Gender-based discrimination: 49

  • Race/language-based discrimination: 39

  • Religion-based discrimination: 7

  • Discrimination against marital status and family responsibilities: 13

  • Disability-based discrimination: 2

  • Others (eg. medical condition, bankruptcy): 33


‘INAPPROPRIATE’ TO COUNT SICK LEAVE AT APPRAISALS

Besides discriminatory hiring practices, Dr Tan stressed that paid sick leave is a basic protection under the Employment Act, and employers should not use an employee’s consumption of paid sick leave as a key performance indicator (KPI) for the whole year.

“Employers should adopt fair and objective appraisal or performance management systems that take into consideration the employee’s overall ability, performance and contributions. The tripartite partners have consensus that using an employee’s consumption of paid sick leave as a KPI for the whole year is inappropriate.” 

He was responding to a question from Sengkang Group Representation Constituency MP Louis Chua from the Workers’ Party, who had asked about the regulations governing the use of sick leave taken as a KPI.

Online users had circulated a document on social media last month purportedly showing an “appraisal matrix” by a healthcare organisation that penalised their medical staff members for claiming sick leave in three or more instances. This was part of the “professional” assessment criteria for the employee’s appraisal, according to the document.

Dr Tan urged employees who are concerned about how sick leave is taken into account by their employers to approach their union for assistance, and for employers to also approach Tafep, the Singapore National Employers Federation or the labour movement.

“If employees or unions cannot satisfactorily resolve the matter with their management, they should approach MOM for further assistance,” Dr Tan added.

Related topics

workplace discrimination Tafep MOM Tan See Leng

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