MP & NTUC Deputy Chief Wants Names of Companies on Watchlist for Biased Hiring to be Disclosed

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Have you ever wondered why you failed a job interview when you felt you were already all too qualified for the job?

No, it might not be because you accidentally farted in front of the interviewer, but it may have been because the criteria had already been selected beforehand – and you were not what they were looking for.

What this criteria is exactly, is something called bias, or discriminatory hiring in other words.

Image: Tenor

On The Watchlist

Yes, biased hiring still exists these days, and there are a long list of companies being watched by the government for allegedly engaging in such hiring practices.

The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) watch list consists of more than 1,200 employers, with 47 companies recently added to it, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a statement.

This announcement comes in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the job market is even harder to break into for employees.

Introduced in 2014, the FCF aims to maintain “a strong Singaporean core” in the PMET segment, requiring employers to practice an unbiased and fair assessment when hiring Singaporeans. Firms will be reported to MOM if they are suspected to be engaging in discriminatory hiring practices for investigation through the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices’ engagement.

Out of these firms, 18 of them have mainly foreigners in their PMET workforce. 30 of the firms have a large concentration of a single nationality (definitely not Singaporean, of course) in their PMET workforce, the number being much higher than their industry peers.

For all the complaints Singaporeans always make about foreigners stealing the jobs of locals, some companies have really been enabling that. Yikes.

Image: Giphy

Employment Pass (EP) applications for these firms on the list will be watched closely, with those who are uncooperative or recalcitrant facing a cut back on their work pass privileges.

Call To Expose These Firms

In a bid to emphasise on how serious the rules are for those on the watchlist, Patrick Tay, assistant secretary general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), called for the names of these firms to be revealed to the public.

He said that it would help employees to be more aware of these firms with discriminatory hiring practices, and added that “it is ever more critical for us to ensure that Singaporeans are considered fairly, especially in the current employment climate.”

According to a ministry spokesperson, MOM will periodically publish some names that are on the list, just as it did in March 2020, exposing five such firms who discriminated against employees’ ages. The firms included Incredible Service Doc and IDOC, Wisdomtree Learning Centre, Outshinerz Events, and Security & Risk Solutions.

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They were since banned from hiring foreigners and were unable to renew the work passes of existing foreign employees for 12 months.

More Measures Needed

Mr Tay felt that more measures were needed to tackle the problem of discriminatory hiring, and suggested that the exemption for intra-corporate transferees (ICTs) be removed.

Penal sanctions and tougher measures should also be held against those companies who don’t take the FCF seriously and try to find ways to “cheat” the rules by using exemptions. Don’t play play.

Jobs may currently be exempted from the FCF advertising requirement if the spot will be filled by an ICT. Before an EP can be applied for, employees have to list the job for Singaporean candidates on Jobs Bank. This exemption only comes into play if the ICT criteria under the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services or any free trade pact applicable to Singapore is fulfilled.

“This will help level the playing field for Singaporean job seekers, such that as long as they are competent and qualified for the job, they can apply and be considered for the position,” commented Mr Tay.

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You Can Only Leave If You Behave

Thankfully for these firms, a firm can be removed from the FCF watchlist, but of course the damage to the firm’s reputation would already have been done by then (if it’s publicly named, that is).

Firms on the watchlist will be assessed every six months, and are expected to act immediately to correct their unfair practices, said MOM. “If they improve on their hiring practices, they will exit the watch list. Only a handful of firms have been put back on the watch list after exiting it,” added the spokesperson.


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