Leon Perera: Unfair discrimination at workplace is like poison that can corrode our national unity

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Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leon Perera on 9 May, asked a question in Parliament about what enforcement powers are used by the Ministry Of Manpower (MOM) when it investigates complaints referred by Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment (TAFEP) about discriminatory employment practices that are not related to nationality.

Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck replied to the NCMP and said:

“We have employment laws that enforce against employers with discriminatory practices on age and gender. Under the Retirement and Re-employment Act, an employer cannot dismiss and employee on the grounds of age. The Employment Act and Child Co-Savings Development Act also protect female employees from being dismissed without sufficient cause during any stage of their pregnancy.”

Mr Teo further clarified that: “MOM takes a serious view of all forms of employment discrimination, and if employers are found to have engaged in such unfair employment practices, MOM will take appropriate enforcement action under the RRA, or Retirement and Re-employment Act, or Child Co-savings Development Act.”

The junior Minister said that TAFEP takes an active role in looking into complaints of unfair employment practices and if employees who feel discriminated approach the tripartite alliance for help, it will refer such cases to MOM if they are found to be true. MOM can suspend such employers workpass privileges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, he said.

The NCMP asked a supplementary question on what enforcement tools are used for other types of discrimination referred by TAFEP, to which Mr Teo replied that in most cases where MOM investigates, the companies rectify their practices.

Writing in his Facebook Mr Perera said: “However most is not all. And not all cases of discrimination may result in a formal complaint. Employer discrimination – whether for age, gender, race, language, religion or disability status – is a poison that can corrode our national unity. We need to ensure that enforcement agencies have the right powers to take action against proven discriminatory employers.”