Whistle-Blowers should approach MOM, TAFEP if picked on by Employer
Written by: Clare Chong
Senior Minister of State for Manpower Dr Koh Poh Koon said on Oct 5 that whistle-blowers should seek help from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) or the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) if they feel discriminated against by their bosses.
Protecting employees who face retaliation for reporting discrimination
Responding to a query from a Member of Parliament (MP) of East Coast GRC about possible recourse for whistleblowers, Dr Koh noted that while such cases are the minority, both MOM or TAFEP could step in to investigate the allegations made by the employees and action could be enforced against the errant employers.
Currently, the law protects employees against unfair dismissal, including reporting workplace discrimination. The Tripartite Guidelines on fair employment practices also stated the need for all employees to be treated fairly based on merit throughout their employment. A committee is reviewing the scope of future legislation for workplace equality, including protection for whistle-blowers.
TAFEP Guidelines to become law with new tribunal to handle workplace discrimination
During the National Day Rally this August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that TAFEP guidelines would be enshrined into law. This would enable the authorities to have more options in dealing with unfair practices at the workplace. There will also be a new tribunal to manage workplace discrimination cases as well. This major move came after the government received repeated requests, especially from MPs with links to National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the labour movement, to have anti-discrimination laws carrying penalities.
Currently, firms with some degree of discriminatory practices are first placed on the Fair Consideration Framework watchlist.
"Firms that are on this watch list, technically they have not flouted any rules yet, but perhaps some of their practices may be veering on the grey margins, and putting them on the watch list is a way to engage with the firms and signal to them that their practices have to be improved," said Dr Koh. Most of the time, educating employers on fair employment guidelines have been effective. For errant employers who persist in their discriminatory practices against the advice of the authorities, enforcement measures would be taken.
At present, these enforcement actions include mandating employers to attend corrective TAFEP workshops, requiring employers to rectify lapses in their human resource process and limiting their work pass privileges.
Do you think having stronger penalties against workplace discrimination is a good move? What other measures do you think could be in place to protect our workers?