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Singapore

TAFEP to provide help for employees who are victims of workplace harassment

SINGAPORE: The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) will be a help and resource centre for workplace harassment for both employers and employees, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Low Yen Ling said in Parliament on Tuesday (Mar 5).

Speaking during her ministry’s Committee of Supply debate, she said that besides providing advice, TAFEP will upload on its website a new introductory video on how to manage workplace harassment.

The website will also contain a sample Workplace Harassment Prevention Policy that companies can incorporate in their Human Resource policies, and a list of training providers employers may engage to train their supervisors in managing workplace harassment.

TAFEP will also be an avenue for employees who face workplace harassment to seek advice and assistance, she said. Affected employees can call seek assistance by calling 6838 0969 or write to TAFEP.

“Should they wish to share their case in confidence, TAFEP will respect their request and not alert their employers,” she said.

READ: Commentary: A culture of unwanted advances and the persistence of workplace sexual harassment

Ms Low added that TAFEP is also working with relevant government agencies and partners, including the police, the courts, and the Association of Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) to set up a referral process so that TAFEP can have sight of all workplace harassment cases.

“We will take a whole-of-government approach to support affected employees,” she said.

She explained that there are two broad categories of workplace harassment that are dealt with differently. Egregious cases for example, like the outrage of modesty and stalking belongs to the class of conduct which constitutes offences under the Penal Code and the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA).

The other type of harassment pertains to behaviour that may not fall under the legal threshold for criminal investigations or civil recourse under POHA, but nonetheless distresses and affects employees, she said. 

Ms Low gave the example of actions that do not intend to, and are unlikely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to a specific employee, but which may still cause discomfort and affect other employees.

“For cases that may not come under POHA, we want to ensure that companies have a robust grievance handling process to deal with such claims of workplace harassment,” she said.

She urged companies to take clear steps to prevent and manage workplace harassment, including being explicit about what is considered unacceptable behaviour at the workplace and making clear the disciplinary actions that would be taken against perpetrators of workplace harassment.

“A safe workplace allows employees to work optimally. For that to take place, both employers and employees must have an interest and responsibility in preventing and managing workplace harassment,” she said.

Source: CNA/ja(mi)

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