Harassed workers in S’pore urged to report complaints immediately

Less than five out of 800 complaints about employment practices dealt with harassment, but people might be scared of speaking up.

By Sulaiman Daud | November 9, 2017

Workplace harassment can take many forms. While sexual harassment is overt and obvious, other actions also constitute harassment. These include:

  • Threatening, abusive and insulting language
  • Threatening, abusive and insulting non-verbal gestures
  • Stalking
  • Sexual harassment

NMP Kok Heng Leun asked in Parliament on Nov. 6 how many employers in the country have implemented the Tripartite Advisory for managing workplace harassment.

The Advisory, which can be read here, provides guidelines for both employees and employers for managing workplace abuse.

Harassment Advisory not compulsory for companies

However, according to Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say, the guide is not prescriptive i.e. not a requirement for companies. MOM also does not track the number of companies who use the guide or actively implement its guidelines.

Lim stated in a written reply that “fewer than five of the 800” complaints lodged with the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) involved allegations of workplace harassment.

While TAFEP responded to each of the harassment complaints and pursued follow-up action with the companies, the number does seem a little on the low side.

Either Singaporeans aren’t harassed in the workplace that much, which would be great, or Singaporeans who are harassed don’t report such cases, whether due to fear of retribution or other reasons.

Said Lim:

“MOM and TAFEP will continue to monitor the situation and take each report of alleged workplace harassment seriously. We urge workers who face workplace harassment to get help promptly. This includes reporting to the authorities such as the Police for criminal offences or the Court for civil remedies.”

MOM, TAFEP and the Singapore National Employers Federation conduct regular courses to help employers adopt proper guidelines to manage workplace harassment. Over the past two years, more than 450 company representatives have been trained.

People may be scared to speak up

Harassment in the workplace has come under the spotlight after the recent Hollywood sex scandal involving film producer Harvey Weinstein, and also actor Kevin Spacey.

S’porean actress Caitanya Tan was nearly creeped on by Harvey Weinstein in 2011

Many of the men and women harassed spoke of the difficulties in speaking up, with some saying they feared for their jobs or careers.

The Advisory linked above contains contact numbers if you’re ever harassed and wish to make a complaint. No one should have to feel unsafe while at work.

Top image from Pixabay.

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve. In his spare time he writes about film, pop-culture and international politics, which you are very welcome to read here.

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