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Employment agencies to get new licence conditions on fair hiring: MOM
THE Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Monday said it will impose new licence conditions on all employment agencies (EAs) in a bid to strengthen fair hiring.
Selected EAs which have demonstrated the ability to hire fairly will be appointed placement partners to help Singaporeans secure jobs and traineeships under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.
MOM will provide funding support to these placement partners to place mature jobseekers, long-term unemployed job seekers or persons with disabilities into jobs and traineeships.
"This initiative will create additional pathways for more vulnerable local job seekers to access professional career-matching services and opportunities suited to their skills and aspirations," MOM said in a statement.
The new licence conditions will take effect from Oct 1, requiring nearly 3,900 EAs licensed by MOM to comply with fair-recruitment requirements set out in the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP).
On top of helping clients fulfil job-advertising requirements, EAs must brief clients on the TGFEP fair-recruitment requirements, make reasonable efforts to attract Singaporeans for job vacancies, and consider all candidates based on merit.
EAs must not in any way "abet discriminatory hiring" by their clients, such as withholding applications on the basis of age, race, nationality, gender, and disability. They must also turn down requests or instructions from clients to carry out discriminatory hiring.
Those that fail to comply with licence conditions may be issued demerit points, have their licence suspended or revoked, or face prosecution.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in a Facebook post on Monday that assumptions about what people can or cannot do because of their gender, family status, age, race, disability – have not gone away.
"Unfortunately, these assumptions become invisible barriers for their victims to get into jobs or to advance in their careers, much to their own detriment and actually that of employers," she added.
To recognise "progressive" EAs, MOM will introduce a new Human Capital Partnership (HCP) mark to recognise EAs that have demonstrated a strong commitment to fair-hiring practices. The move is an expansion of the tripartite HCP Programme which has recognised over 550 exemplary employers to date.
The ministry is in the process of shortlisting EAs that qualify for the HCP mark and expects to admit the first group of such EAs to the HCP Programme later this year.
Based on an MOM survey in 2018 with more than 2,000 employees, three in 10 job positions are filled through EAs, making these agencies key labour market intermediaries.
MOM said it has received around 20 complaints annually in the last three years against EAs for discriminatory job advertisements and found it necessary to take action against almost all these agencies following investigations.
Earlier this year, MOM updated its Fair Consideration Framework and increased penalties across the board for all forms of discrimination. Employers found to be discriminatory in their hiring practices were given firm action, including the suspension of work pass privileges or prosecution for violating the law.
Said Mrs Teo: "Fairness is a value we can all relate to. Fight unfair hiring like we would Covid-19. Stop it from spreading and 'quarantine' errant employers and intermediaries by putting them out of circulation."