Tripartite advisory advocates zero tolerance for workplace harassment

Better lighting and more CCTV coverage in the workplace could help prevent workplace harassment.
Better lighting and more CCTV coverage in the workplace could help prevent workplace harassment. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Fighting workplace harassment is the responsibility of employers, said an advisory released on Wednesday (Dec 23) by the Government, the labour movement and employers.

Employers who consider such harassment to be personal affairs between workers need to think again for the sake of the company's welfare, productivity and reputation, the advisory warned.

The Manpower Ministry (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), developed the advisory following the passing of the Protection from Harassment Act (POHA) in Parliament in March last year.

The advisory encourages employers to advocate zero tolerance for harassment across all levels of their organistions. It suggests measures they could adopt, such as a hotline for victims and better training for theirhuman resource staff to deal with such cases.

Better lighting and more CCTV coverage in the workplace, as well as signages discouraging harassment, could also help prevent such behaviour.

The advisory was drafted by a group comprising Government stakeholders, unions, employers, human resource professionals and subject matter experts.

The group also sought the views of organisations such as the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), Singapore Council of Women's Organisations (SCWO) and Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC).

SNEF has also developed a course for employers on "Prevention and Addressing Workplace Bullying and Harassment".

Aware welcomed the new advisory. Its executive director Corinna Lim said: "Workplace harassment is against the law. This advisory confirms that employers must play a proactive role in preventing and addressing it.

"Usually, people facing workplace sexual harassment aren't looking to punish the harasser. They just want to see employers put a stop to it.

"If they have no confidence in the employer, they may suffer in silence, or just leave. But if an employer has proper policies and processes, it makes a real difference."

oliviaho@sph.com.sg