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Forum: Stronger protection against workplace harassment, robust steps to support victims

We refer to the commentary by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) “Harassment in the workplace and the problem with some employers” (Sept 6).

The Government does not tolerate any form of workplace harassment. A nationally representative survey by the Ministry of Manpower shows that the proportion of resident employees who reported having encountered workplace harassment in 2022 was 5.4 per cent. This figure is lower than the average of European countries, but any case of workplace harassment is one too many.

Tripartite partners have put in place the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Workplace Harassment since 2015, which guides employers to proactively identify, evaluate and control the risk of harassment at the workplace to ensure a safe, healthy and harmonious workplace.

In addition, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) has robust measures in place to support victims of workplace harassment.

When Tafep receives a harassment complaint, it will ask the employer to carry out an independent investigation. This will include interviewing affected parties and witnesses and reviewing documented evidence. The employer is required to update Tafep on the disciplinary actions taken against the harasser if the report were found to be true, and to address the victim’s concerns.

Where there are shortcomings in an employer’s policies and processes, Tafep works with the employer to put in place proper harassment prevention policies and procedures that are aligned with the tripartite advisory. Employers engaged by Tafep to look into workplace harassment reports have been cooperative and have taken the necessary corrective measures in line with the advisory.

In 2019, Tafep set up the Workplace Harassment Resource and Recourse Centre, which provides dedicated support to victims of workplace harassment. Aware also flags such cases to Tafep for help and follow-up.

The upcoming Workplace Fairness Legislation will provide stronger protection against discrimination and harassment. Employers will be required to implement proper grievance handling process at the workplace, and will be prohibited from retaliating against those who report workplace discrimination or harassment. The Government will continue to review our overall framework for workplace discrimination and harassment to strengthen its effectiveness.

We urge individuals who face harassment at the workplace to approach Tafep or the police for advice and assistance.

Lee Chung Wei
Divisional Director, Workplace Policy and Strategy Division
Ministry of Manpower

Faith Li
General Manager
Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices

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