updated 11 Apr 2013, 15:42
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70% of unfair dismissal cases involved pregnant women: Tan Chuan Jin

SINGAPORE - About 70 cases of unfair dismissals were reported by female employees each year since 2007, and 70 per cent involved women who were pregnant, said Acting Manpower Minster Tan Chuan Jin in response to Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling's queries.

Ms Tin had asked for details of reports involving women being dismissed or discriminated against during work appraisals and the key reasons in Parliament on Monday.

Mr Tan said that most of the cases were not clear cut, but majority were amicably resolved through mediation.

Read the full written answer issued by the Parliament:

Ms Tin Pei Ling:

To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower for each of the years from 2003-2012 (a) what is the number of reports received involving women being dismissed or discriminated against during work appraisals; and (b) what are the key reasons for such dismissal and discrimination.

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin:

The Employment Act (EA) protects employees against unfair dismissal. Under the Act, female employees are further protected from unfair dismissal during their pregnancy. The Act also ensures that female employees are entitled to paid maternity leave and prohibits their dismissal when they are on maternity leave.

Female employees who feel that they have been unfairly dismissed may appeal to the Minister for Manpower. Enforcement action has been and will continue to be taken against employers who breach the law.

Since 2007, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has received annually an average of about 70 cases from female employees who felt that they had been unfairly dismissed. 70 per cent involved women who were pregnant.

The majority of these dismissal cases are not clear cut cases of unfair dismissal or discrimination. This is due to the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of the employee which invariably involve work-related issues such as misconduct or poor work performance on the part of the employee.

In most cases, both the employee and employer are unable to clearly substantiate whether the dismissal was with or without sufficient cause. In such cases, MOM helps to mediate a resolution between the parties. Almost all of such disputes are amicably resolved through mediation.

Over the same period (since 2007), the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) received eight complaints from women who felt that they were being discriminated against at the workplace because of their gender. Seven of these were at the preemployment stage and against discriminatory job advertisements.

The sole complaint from a woman in employment was over her non-confirmation after her probation period. To date, the employers approached by TAFEP following complaints on discriminatory recruitment practices have heeded TAFEP's advice given with reference to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.

Women employees are an integral part of our workforce. It is important for employers to attract and retain the best talent for the job by hiring and treating their employees fairly based on merit and the requirements of the job. Employers should also adopt appraisal systems which are fair and objective, with measurable standards for evaluating job performance. By practising fair employment, employers will have access to a wider talent pool as well as boost their employees' morale and productivity.

Job seekers and employees who feel they have been discriminated against may approach TAFEP for assistance. Employers who require help in implementing fair employment practices at the workplace may also approach TAFEP.

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