Mindset change key to wiping out ageism

We thank Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock for his letter concerning workplace ageism (Laws needed against workplace ageism; Nov 6).

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) take a serious view of employers who discriminate, including against older workers.

It is an offence for employers to dismiss employees who are below 62 years old on the grounds of age.

Employers must also offer re-employment to eligible employees who turn 62, until the age of 67.

If they are unable to, they must provide an Employment Assistance Payment to help the employee tide over the period of time while searching for another job.

Employers who do not do so face a fine of up to $5,000 and/or jail term of up to six months.

All employers are also expected to abide by the tripartite guidelines on Fair Employment Practices.

If they fail to do this, at the recommendation of Tafep, they may be denied the privilege of employing foreign workers.

Joint efforts by the tripartite partners and business community have helped to keep the incidence of age-related workplace discrimination low.

In the past three years, Tafep and the MOM have, on average, received fewer than 80 age-related discrimination complaints and debarred 15 employers from hiring foreign workers each year for age-related discrimination.

While laws and enforcement may deter discriminatory behaviour, the tripartite partners recognise that the key to eliminating workplace discrimination is to change individual mindsets.

Tafep focuses on efforts that can catalyse such changes. These include public awareness campaigns, as well as training and advice to employers and employees on fair and progressive employment practices.

Our efforts have contributed to a steady increase in the employment rate for older workers.

Today, Singapore has one of the highest employment rates for older workers, compared to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

Our employment rate for workers aged 55 to 64 has increased to about 67.3 per cent last year, compared to about 53.7 per cent in 2006.

Employees and jobseekers can approach Tafep (www.tafep.sg) or the MOM if they encounter workplace discrimination.

Employers may contact Tafep for advice on implementing fair and progressive employment practices.

Roslyn Ten (Mrs)

General Manager

Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices

Ng Poey Eng

Deputy Director (Fair Consideration Office)

Labour Relations & Workplaces Division

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2017, with the headline 'Mindset change key to wiping out ageism'. Print Edition | Subscribe