Over 40 hospitality and consumer businesses pledge to keep workplaces harassment-free

SINGAPORE - More than 40 companies including hotels, retailers and recreation clubs pledged on Wednesday to make their workplaces harassment-free.

Some 30,600 workers are expected to benefit from the measures implemented by their companies, the majority of which fall under the National Trades Union Congress' hospitality and consumer business cluster.

As part of the pledge, which was taken at Furama Riverfront Singapore hotel, companies will look into laying out guidelines for appropriate and acceptable behaviour in the workplace, and setting up effective feedback channels for staff to report behaviour or actions they feel may constitute harassment.

The move comes after the Protection from Harassment Bill was passed in March this year to better protect people from issues such as sexual harassment and online bullying.

Mr Tan Hock Soon, chairman of the cluster, said after the event that the aim is to raise awareness about workplace harassment.

"Workers nowadays are highly cyber-active and connected, both in the workplace and outside. We have to help them realise that freedom of speech is not absolute, they have to be careful because these are liable for action," he said.

"We want to create the kind of environment where there is mutual respect between workers, and also between workers and customers, because among our members many of them are frontline staff, and customers can be abusive or threatening."

One of the employers that signed the pledge was Pan Pacific Singapore. The hotel's director of human capital and development Alice Lee said she has seen two cases of harassment in the two years she has been with the hotel, including one of a young part-time waitress who was still studying.

"Sometimes, guests being guests, they think the guest is always right," she said, adding that guests occasionally use very blunt words or even vulgarities towards staff.

"Some of our service associates think, 'because I'm in the service line I'll just take it, I have no choice'. We want to tell them they do have a choice, they can raise it up to us."