HR TOP HITS HIRING OUTLOOK DISCRIMINATION FLEXI-HOURS
Singapore – As Singapore witnesses a 5% quarter-on-quarter dip in hiring prospects this year, locals are complaining about employers preferring to hire foreigners.
In fact, the Antal Global Snapshot found employment was on a more positive swing elsewhere in the Asia Pacific, particularly in emerging markets. In the Philippines, 97% of companies hired at the managerial and professional level in the last quarter, while China’s hiring rate also rose to 72% over the same period.
Locally, hiring rates in the country fell from 44% in Q4 last year, to 39% in Q1 this year. At the same time, the percentage of companies retrenching staff level rose from 12% in Q4 last year to 23% in the last quarter.
Within the region, the report showed greatest employment opportunities in the accountancy, e-commerce and social media and telecommunications sectors. Dismal hiring activity was recorded in the accountancy and banking sectors.
The latest report from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) has - for the first time - revealed the number one complaint Singaporeans have over unfair employment practices – bosses who prefer foreigners over locals.
Job advertisements expressing preference for foreign candidates are likely the most common form of nationality discrimination, according to Tan Chuan-Jin, manpower minister. Some foreign supervisors have also been found to favour their own countrymen with “exclusionary behaviour”. This included the speaking of different languages, eating separately and the passing of condescending remarks.
While employers might need a change in attitude, experts also suggest encouraging more flexibility in working hours for staff, so they are encouraged to report to work earlier.
Even though SMRT implemented a 30 cent fare discount last October to encourage MRT commuters to travel before 7.45am, most employees are still not doing so. Among passengers who usually travel between 7.45 and 8.15am, only 1.2% are now going to work earlier.
Although it is important for the train operator to provide such incentives, Lee Der-Horng, an associate professor from the Department of Civil Engineering at the National University of Singapore added, there's also the participation from the employers.
“Are employers really willing to exercise and practise more flexible working hours? In the end, with this interaction together, it would be more likely for us to respond to this system. This kind of scheme will then be more sustainable in the future,” he said.
Another point employers should take note of is the serious consequences they will face if they underpay or omit CPF contributions to their staff.
In an effort to ensure employees are paid their rightful contributions, the CPF Board recovered a worrying S$9.5 million in arrears, belonging to 10,000 workers across 3,700 companies. Furthermore, audits in 2011 found about 70% of the companies underpaid CPF contributions to employees.
Tan Chuan-Jin, manpower minister, said this a serious offence that has prompted them to step up checks on sectors more likely to be non-compliant, namely the food and beverage, security and cleaning industries. Under the CPF Act, first time offenders may be fined S$2,500 for each offence, while repeat offenders may be fined S$10,000.
At the same time, HR should help ensure an efficient work structure within the organisation.
Recently, a German state employee admitted to getting paid €745,000 (S$1,221,443) for “doing nothing” at work over the past 14 years. His organisation’s parallel and inefficient work shuffling structures meant he was constantly left him with an empty in-tray.
In a farewell email announcing his retirement to colleagues, the unnamed 65-year-old boasted he had been “present, but not really there” during the period he was employed as an engineer at a state surveying office in North Rhine-Westphalia.
His former employer, the mayor of Menden, expressed disappointment and said he felt a “considerable pinch of rage” when he saw the email, as the man had never complained about not having enough to do.
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