The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) has recently outlined what is and what is not acceptable when creating a job advertisement in Singapore. This comes on the back of an MOM announcement in late September that 10 companies have been rapped for posting discriminatory job ads.
Amid greater scrutiny and to help you understand what phrasings could be deemed as problematic in your job advertisement, we will summarize TAFEP’s tips below. Mindfulness to these areas could potentially save you from the pain of unnecessary brand injury and loss in consumer confidence.
1. AVOID TERMS THAT MARGINALIZE SINGAPOREANS
To prevent discriminatory hiring based on nationality, phrases that exclude Singaporeans or indicate a preference for non-Singaporeans are not allowed in job ads.
For example, the following phrases are considered unacceptable in job ads:
- Non-Singaporeans preferred
- Singaporeans and Malaysians (or other nationalities) welcome/preferred
- Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents only
- Employment Pass / S Pass / Work Permit / Dependant’s Passes / Long Term Visit Passes Holders only
Instead, companies are advised not to mention nationality in their job ads.
2. AGE LIMITS ARE FOR CLUBS, NOT WORKPLACES
Unless a candidate has to be of at least a certain legal age to function in a role e.g. bartender, phrases that show preference for candidates from a certain age group is considered discriminatory and not acceptable in Singapore job ads.
TAFEP urges companies to be cognizant of age sensitivities and avoid terms such as “youthful working environment”, “Below 30 only” or “fresh graduates are welcome to apply.” Instead, firms may include phrases such as “3 years of relevant experience required” or “no experience required” or “Older workers welcomed.”
3. WHEN IT COMES TO LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS, BE CLEAR
If a position requires proficiency in a language, employers must clarify why this is necessary for the role.
For example, by indicating “Mandarin (or any other language) is an advantage,” the ad will signal preference for Mandarin speakers only and marginalize other candidates. However, if the ad justifies the language proficiency as a vital skill for performing duties i.e. translating, teaching the language or communicating with clients or overseas colleagues in that language, then the ad will be deemed reasonable.
4. KEEP RACE, RELIGION, SEX AND MARITAL STATUS OUT OF THE EQUATION
According to TAFEP, religion is unacceptable as a criterion for employment, except when the position requires staff members to perform religious duties. Instead of saying “No Muslims. Christians preferred,” a restaurant may instead say that the handling of pork or alcohol is part of the role.
Racial preference is an absolute no-no as well. Terms like “Indians preferred” or “Malays only” should not be in a Singapore job ad.
Words such as “Preferably female” or “Male only environment” show preference for candidates of a particular sex and should not be used. Instead, companies should illustrate the nature of the job e.g. “strenuous physical work required”, “heavy lifting of goods required,” or “modelling of clothes required.”
Last, but not least, if frequent travel or long shifts is expected in a role, companies should not indicate a preference for single candidates in the job ad. They should however be clear about the nature of the role and their expectations of a candidate.
In gist, companies need to be more cognizant of the sensitivities of operating in a multicultural and multi-faceted Singapore.
For more information, please see TAFEP’s Do’s and Don’ts when Placing Job Advertisements.