Navigating global interviews and hiring processes – Pinsent Masons | Region & Cash

Singapore HR and recruitment professionals should be aware of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP). Fair Employment Practices Guidelines and Fair consideration framework (FCF). TAFEP is a body established by the tripartite partners of the Ministry of Labor (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress and the National Employers’ Confederation of Singapore. Other notable areas related to recruitment are privacy considerations under Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) 2012.

Although Article 12 of the Singapore Constitution broadly prohibits discrimination against Singaporeans, there is currently no distinct legal framework that directly governs discrimination in the context of employment and hiring. This is instead addressed by the Guidelines and the FCF, which together aim to promote fair and meritocratic employment practices in Singapore.

Under the guidelines, employers should hire and select employees on the basis of merit and, without limitation, age, disability, family responsibilities, gender, marital status, race or religion.

In job advertisements, the selection criteria should always relate to the skills, qualifications, experience and knowledge of the prospective applicant. If an advertised position requires characteristics that may be perceived as discriminatory, employers should ensure that these are necessary and justified.

Ads that contain selection criteria related to race, religion, age, gender, nationality, marital status and family responsibilities are generally unacceptable and should be avoided. For example, ads that contain phrases like “Chinese race preference” or “Must be Filipino” are clearly inappropriate. Those were the kinds of descriptions was used by more than a dozen companies in 2013each of which was subject to severe administrative penalties by the MOM.

However, some positions may have specific religious, language and gender requirements justified by the nature of the roles; for example, a Mandarin-speaking Chinese teacher or an imam to perform Muslim prayers. In any case, the selection criteria should always be fair, objective and clearly formulated.

During application forms and interviews, employers should only request information or ask questions that are relevant to assessing an applicant’s suitability for the position. Irrelevant information generally includes gender, race, religion, marital status, family responsibilities, disability, age, and photograph. Other avoidable criteria may include health history, languages ​​spoken, and dietary needs.

Instead, employers should collect personal data at the time of the job offer. If an employer specifically requires this information prior to the job offer, they should state the reasons – which must be job-related – in the application form or interview.

One caveat is that under the FCF, employers must give fair consideration to Singaporeans in all employment opportunities before deciding to hire foreigners. This is not lip service – employers’ hiring practices are closely monitored and violators face significant penalties. In 2020 was a logistics company Fees for the pre-selection of a foreign applicant and falsely stated that it was interviewing Singaporean candidates.

While the guidelines are not legally binding, the government has obliged to enshrine them in law and increased penalties for violations. It should also be noted that in practice employers are strongly advised to comply with the provisions of the Guidelines, as regulators can take enforcement action against employers who do not comply.

Possible enforcement actions include placing the employer on the Fair Consideration Framework Watchlist, subjecting them to closer scrutiny by regulators.

Applicants and employees can also report unfair or discriminatory employment practices to TAFEP. Companies that do not comply with the guidelines are usually advised by TAFEP and asked to adjust relevant violations. If they do not comply, or if the practices are particularly undesirable, companies can also be subject to harsh administrative penalties imposed by MOM. They can also have their work pass privileges suspended for a period of time. This ranges from 12 months to 24 months for the most egregious cases and includes both new applications and work card renewals. For example, in 2020, MOM banned five companies from hiring foreign workers for 12 months was found to have discriminated against age in job advertisements.

Data protection considerations are also of central importance in the application process. Employers and recruitment agencies must ensure compliance with the PDPA when conducting recruitment processes.

Employers should generally obtain an individual’s consent before collecting, using, or disclosing their personal information. That being said, an individual who voluntarily provides personal information to an employer in relation to a job application is generally deemed to have consented to the use of their information to assess their suitability for the job. However, if the employer intends to use personal data beyond this purpose, he must inform the applicant and obtain his consent.

The PDPA grants individuals the right to access their personal data and request corrections. Therefore, upon request, the employer must disclose to the job applicant the applicant’s personal data that it has. In particular, however, employers are not obliged to disclose to the applicant the opinions that have formed about his suitability or suitability for the position.

Anti-discrimination frameworks and privacy concerns are key aspects of fair employment practices that employers should consider when attempting to conduct legally and professionally sound recruitment activities in Singapore. In particular, before codifying the guidelines, employers should pay particular attention to ensuring that recruitment activities comply with the current regulatory framework. When this is not the case, employers not only face the reputational consequences of non-compliance, but also face more severe penalties imposed in full force of law.

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