Yesterday (14 January), Singapore's Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo announced that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will now enforce stiffer penalties on all forms of workplace discrimination.

Examples of workplace discrimination include incidences based on age, race, nationality, and mental health condition.

These penalties will be enforced as follows:

Longer debarment period for all work passes (WP)

Previously, employers found to have breached the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices were debarred from hiring new foreign workers for at least six months.

Now, the minimum debarment period has been extended to 12 months. "More egregious cases will face a longer debarment period, up to a maximum of 24 months," Minister Teo added.

Debarment will now extend to the renewal of existing foreign workers

While this debarment used to apply only to new WP applications, it has now been extended to include the renewal of existing foreign workers.

As the duration of most WPs are two to three years, for a 12-month debarment, a third to half of their existing foreign workers cannot be renewed, and the firm cannot hire new foreign workers. For a 24-month debarment, up to all the work passes cannot be renewed, and the firm cannot hire new foreign workers.

What this means is that if an employer wants to continue operating in Singapore, they would have to hire locals.

MOM will prosecute employers and key personnel who make false declarations on fair consideration

If an employer is convicted of false declaration under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, they could face imprisonment of up to two years or fines of up to $20,000, or both.

Minister Teo clarified: "To be clear, MOM will trace the line of accountability at the individual level. All individuals involved in the false declaration, whether it is the CEO or HR manager or hiring manager, will be held responsible."

These regulations were highlighted alongside the recent charge of Ti2 Logistics for falsely declaring that it had considered local candidates fairly.

Brief background on the case:

Investigations by the MOM revealed that Ti2 Logistics had falsely declared in an Employment Pass application that it had interviewed two applicants who are Singapore citizens and considered local candidates fairly for the position of Business Development Manager that it was hiring.

However, the firm had already pre-selected the EP applicant and had no intention to interview any local candidates.

The firm was charged in the State Courts yesterday with one count under section 22(1)(d) of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, and this was the first of such a case.

PCP for Salesforce Professionals renewed for three more years

Minister Teo made the above announcement in her speech at the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Salesforce Platform Professionals Graduation Ceremony held yesterday, attended by Human Resources Online.

The ceremony was held for the PCP's pilot batch, which comprised over 40 participants employed across 15 companies. Many in this batch had no prior experience in the ICT field, who were then reskilled for roles such as solutions consultants, developers, and more.

Apart from this, 45% of the batch was made up of mature workers and/or individuals who were unemployed for more than six months.

In light of this, and in a bid to meet the increasing demand for ICT professionals in Singapore, Workforce Singapore (WSG), Salesforce and SGTech have renewed the PCP.

The programme, which will span another three years till 2023, aims to train close to 150 professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), with continued support from the Infocomm Media Development Authority and the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Commenting on this, Tan Choon Shian, Chief Executive of WSG, said: "Infocomm has greatly enhanced Singapore's competitiveness by raising productivity and transforming businesses, and the growing demand for workers with skills in new technology in a fast-moving digital landscape will continue to grow.

"WSG is therefore pleased to extend this partnership to help more local mid-career PMETs take on jobs with good career prospects. We encourage companies to recognise the value of embracing tech talents in their business transformation, and also support the reskilling of workers to increase their employability."

Minister Teo also stressed the importance of such PCPs, particularly in the Infocomm sector which has been identified as one of six Growth Sectors with strong potential for PMETs' job growth.

She shared: "Since 2016 to 2018, the number of employed residents in the Infocomm sector has grown by 7,500. This translates to nearly one in five of total local employment growth. Most of the people already had skills that matched employer needs, but some did not.

"That's where the PCPs come in. 800 locals got hired in tech jobs (such as Digital Marketing Specialists, Infocomm Sales and Marketing Specialists, and Data Analysts, etc) because PCPs helped them get skills they lacked."

To date, she added, close to 400 employers in Infocomm have participated in PCPs.

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