Employers must abide by Singapore’s Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices when recruiting new workers. While these guidelines are supported by a legal framework that could see your business penalised for falling short, there are also plenty of business reasons for being impartial.
Here, we’ve delved into the current procedures to ensure your operation follows the latest employment practices and benefits from being an honest employer. Read through this guide and consider a selection of actionable steps to ensure you provide all candidates with a fair opportunity.
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The Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices
The Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices consist of five policies that dictate how businesses should conduct themselves when hiring staff in Singapore. Created by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), the following guidelines ensure organisations understand their obligations and develop a merit-based system:
- Recruit and select employees on the basis of merit (such as skills, experience or ability to perform the job), regardless of age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability.
- Treat employees fairly and with respect, and implement progressive human resource management systems.
- Provide employees with equal opportunity to be considered for training and development based on their strengths and needs to help them achieve their full potential.
- Reward employees fairly based on their ability, performance, contribution and experience.
- Abide by labour laws and adopt the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.
Enforcement of Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices
The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) outlines how Singaporean employers must conduct themselves when hiring staff members. These deterrents, which have only increased since the framework was strengthened in 2020, can place a range of administrative penalties on those who break the rules.
For example, employers can be hit with a work pass debarment for 12 to 24 months. Those who receive the maximum penalty will not be allowed to hire new foreign workers, extend existing work passes or process new applications.
The Ministry of Manpower can also prosecute employers, including individual workers and managers, who have broken the guidelines by making false declarations about fair hiring practices. This can lead to up to two years of imprisonment and fines of up to $20,000.
4 essential steps to create fairer hiring practices
Having reviewed Singapore’s fair employment practices and learned about potential punishments, you must adopt procedures that keep your hiring process objective. Check out these four essential steps to implement fair employment practices.
1. Write inclusive job descriptions
Think carefully about how you craft your job descriptions. In most cases, it’s best to avoid language relating to age, race, religion and gender unless there are practical requirements. If there are, you should clearly state them.
Businesses should not specify an age range when hiring. However, they can flag out tasks that may be physically taxing, like moving heavy machinery or staying on your feet for long periods of time. Likewise, you can identify when candidates must speak a specific language for jobs involving communication with foreign clients.
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2. Review your job application forms
Besides your job advertisements, you must be cautious about what information you request through your job application forms. Prevent a potentially illegal mishap by focusing on skills, qualifications and experience questions.
It’s best to avoid asking candidates about their mental health condition or marital status. Meanwhile, remove any fields requesting information about someone’s family responsibilities, such as childcare demands. This will help keep your application forms merit-based.
3. Standardise your interview process
Recognise that your interview process can have inherent biases that make it unsuitable for fair employment practices. As the interviewer might hold conscious or subconscious bias, developing a standardised format that removes this as much as possible is crucial.
One such technique is the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This behavioural questioning sees hiring managers ask candidates to focus on past performance results, which helps your operation identify valuable skills and experience with a standardised approach.
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4. Undertake proper employee training
Placing relevant team members in courses that teach fair hiring practices is a great way to stop damaging processes from finding their way into your business. This will help your managers and supervisors recognise and avoid unconscious bias.
For example, a workshop on an Overview of the Employment Act can align the team on lawful and unlawful employment practices. Another on the Introduction to Fair Hiring educates on the non-discriminatory practices in all hiring touchpoints, such as interviews, application forms and candidate assessments.
All employees handling recruitment, interviews and evaluation of job candidates will benefit from this training. Your business will also profit from enhanced fair hiring practices that broaden your talent pool and diversify your workforce.