SINGAPORE – The upcoming legislation on workplace fairness will provide more targeted penalties against discrimination but with the aim of settling disputes via mediation rather than litigation, said Mr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Manpower.
Responding to questions in Parliament on Monday, the minister said the framework for fair employment practices should be done with an eye on “strengthening our stand against discrimination, while maintaining a workplace culture that is harmonious and not litigious”.
Mr Koh said the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) have received about 315 complaints of discrimination a year over the last five years.
n the absence of legislation, Tafep was set up in 2006 to promote the adoption of fair employment practices and serve as a platform for employees or individuals who encounter workplace discrimination or harassment to seek assistance and advice.
Mr Koh said “the most common types of discrimination complaints received were on nationality, age, sex, race and language”.
He said that workplace harmony is an invaluable hallmark of Singapore’s employment landscape and needs to be protected under the new legislation, which is expected to be complete in 2024.
Currently, recommendations by the Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness, convened in July 2021 to review the Singapore workplace fairness framework, focus on resolving disputes at the source as much as possible, and emphasise mediation rather than litigation, he said.
For example, the committee recommends requiring employers to put in place grievance-handling channels and processes at the workplace to facilitate amicable dispute resolution within the firm.
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