154 workplace sexual harassment cases closed in Singapore last year; 70 warnings, two convictions issued

154 workplace sexual harassment cases closed in Singapore last year; 70 warnings, two convictions issued

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Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng said the authorities handled 378 workplace sexual harassment cases in 2021, initiating investigations for 305 of them. Currently, 151 cases are still undergoing investigation.

Between January 2021 and September 2021, the Singapore authorities handled a total of 378 sexual harassment cases with a workplace nexus under the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA), and Penal Code.

In a written answer to a parliamentary question posed by Member of Parliament Melvin Yong Yik Chye, Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng said "depending on the facts and circumstances of the case", authorities may initiate investigations. "Where investigations are not initiated, authorities will advise the complainant to pursue civil remedies such as applying for a Protection Order".

In that vein, of the 378 cases, the authorities had initiated investigations for 305 of them. As of 3 January 2022, 151 cases were still undergoing investigation; and of the 154 completed cases, 70 resulted in warnings, and two in convictions.

For context, Minister Tan shared that authorities had started to track such workplace harassment reports in 2021 to help the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) "better understand the extent of this issue".

The Minister added for cases that "may not meet" the legal threshold for criminal investigations, or civil recourse under POHA, but nonetheless result in distresses at the workplace, TAFEP will require the employer to provide an investigation report of the workplace harassment complaint in accordance with the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Workplace Harassment and take clear steps to prevent and manage workplace harassment in future.

"TAFEP will also work with the affected individual and the employer to adjust work arrangements and provide closure where relevant," he said.

Since the establishment of TAFEP’s Workplace Harassment Resource and Recourse Centre in 2019, TAFEP has handled an average of 10 reports of workplace sexual harassment each year. "Till date, all employers engaged by TAFEP to look into workplace harassment reports have been cooperative, and have taken the necessary corrective measures in line with the Advisory," Minister Tan shared.

Minister Tan also cautioned that the Government does not tolerate any form of workplace harassment including sexual harassment, and urged any employee who has encountered workplace harassment to approach TAFEP or the authorities for advice, and assistance.

RelatedHow to build a respectful and harassment-free work environment

Image / 123RF

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