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To weed out discrimination in the workplace, TAFEP needs more ‘teeth’: Saktiandi

While there has been a decline in the number of complaints lodged against discrimination in the workplace, greater enforcement is necessary to get passive employers on board, says first-time MP Saktiandi Supaat.

SINGAPORE: To be more effective in weeding out discrimination in the workplace, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) needs more “teeth” to impose sanctions on errant employers, MP Saktiandi Supaat said on Thursday (Jan 28).

In his maiden parliamentary speech, Mr Saktiandi pointed out that countries like Australia and Finland have laws that specifically prohibit discrimination, and employers found guilty of discrimination face penalties.

“We all remember the bad old days of the job advertisements in our local newspapers which would boldly state, for example: ‘Only a certain race can apply.’ Thankfully, those days are firmly in our past,” he said.

Based on TAFEP’s 2014 annual report, the number of complaints lodged against discriminatory practices that year was almost half that of 2013. The number of enquiries from employers seeking resources to hire previously-disadvantaged groups of people has also doubled – an indication that more companies are developing into conducive workplaces on their own accord, he said.

While TAFEP has been “very inspiring and supportive”, greater enforcement is necessary to get passive employers on board, Mr Saktiandi said.

“If we as a nation are serious about ensuring that all Singaporeans have equal employment opportunities, we must also have the power to impose meaningful sanctions upon errant employers, as the laws in Australia and Finland allow,” he said.

Additionally, these sanctions should be extended to cover incidences of discrimination during the hiring process, Mr Saktiandi said.

“We must ensure every person has the same opportunities, giving each citizen the same platform to excel by their own merits. This is even more important in an economic environment where labour market competition runs high,” he said.