Firms apologise for discriminatory job ads

TWO firms have apologised online for discriminatory job advertisements looking for specific foreign nationalities, which were placed on the Web last month.

Expedia Inc, the online travel agency, and consultancy Incofood International put up their apologies after the Manpower Ministry (MOM) suggested they do so.

The complaint that some firms favour foreigners over Singaporeans was highlighted in last month's Budget debate by Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who pledged to tackle such discrimination.

An MOM spokesman said the ministry was informed of the ads last month by members of the public. "We engaged the companies at a senior level, informed them to remove the advertisements immediately, and also suspended their work pass privileges," he said.

He added that the companies were cooperative and took the matter seriously.

On March 22, Expedia Inc posted a public apology on its jobs website on behalf of Expedia Singapore, for an ad "which created the perception that the position required an individual of Filipino descent, which was not the intention". What was required was an individual who knew Tagalog, added the firm.

It said it had removed the ad and taken steps to ensure that "language skills that are necessary for any position are clearly stated", and added that the error would not happen again.

It was also made clear to The Straits Times that Expedia Singapore is not related to the Expedia. site, which is a joint venture with AirAsia. A spokesman said the ad had been put up by an Expedia Inc staff member based in Hong Kong.

Separately, Incofood International apologised on online hiring portal for an ad it put up for the position of admin officer. Incofood acknowledged "that a discriminatory advertisement has been posted" and also insisted it would not happen again.

The amended ad, which included the apology, now seeks a Singaporean or permanent resident "with excellent writing skills for good translation and interpretation in English from Malay, Chinese, or Burmese".

Incofood could not reply by press time but The Straits Times understands that the original ad had sought "a native of Malaysia, Myanmar or China" able to translate between mother tongue and English.

The MOM spokesman said the ministry "will continue to take action against companies that put up such advertisements, as part of efforts to ensure companies give fair consideration to Singaporeans in their hiring practices".