MOM declines to publish the names of errant companies that discriminate against hiring Singaporeans

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Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad (YT screencaptures)

Minister of State for Manpower, Zaqy Mohamad, revealed in Parliament yesterday that a total of 521 errant companies that engaged in unfair employment practices were warned or sanctioned by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) between 2013 and 2017.

The majority (58 per cent) of these companies, however, only received warnings while the remaining 42 per cent of errant companies “faced more difficulty” when applying for work passes for foreign employees, according to the ruling party politician.

Mr Zaqy also revealed that MOM and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) received an average of 450 complaints annually about unfair employment practices from 2015 to 2017.

This means the authorities received about 1.23 complaints a day on average, in this period. Mr Zaqy said that most of these complaints are about favoritism towards foreigners and age discrimination.

Mr Zaqy revealed these facts as he answered a question posed by Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) on whether the MOM could name errant employers so that the people can be assured that the authorities take action against them.

Instead of naming the errant employers, the Minister of State pointed to the statistics of 521 companies being flagged by MOM as evidence “that there is action being taken, and certainly we have to be fair to both employees and employers to make sure that the cases are dealt with fairly.”

Noting that MOM and TAFEP have publicised certain cases due to public interest or the egregiousness of the employers’ conduct, Mr Zaqy declined to issue a list identifying errant employers.

He explained: “While naming all errant employers publicly would serve as a deterrence, there could be unintended consequences because we may end up indirectly identifying the affected employees or breaching their privacy.”

Mr Zaqy further assured that most of the complaints that MOM and TAFEP receive come to them because employers do not have a proper system to handle internal grievances or because employers may be insensitive to the varying needs of their employees.

Assuring that employers are generally cooperative when TAFEP investigates complaints, the Minister of State said that their aim is to help resolve complaints amicably and help employers improve their internal practices.