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In brief

Both employers and recruiters who place candidates with employers should note that, in the face of difficult labour market conditions arising from COVID-19 and the Circuit Breaker movement restrictions affecting the conduct of business, MOM continues policies to strengthen job opportunities for Singaporeans to ensure the foreign workforce complements, and not substitute, the local workforce. Recognising the significant role played by labour market intermediaries in fair hiring practices, MOM will impose new anti-discrimination obligations for licensed Employment Agencies (EAs) from 1 October 2020. MOM will penalise EAs which fail to uphold fair hiring, and reward those EAs which show their strong commitment to fair recruitment practices and assist employers in strengthening their Singaporean core.


Recommended action

EAs should already be familiar with MOM’s Employment Agency Licence Conditions and should now be additionally aware of the new conditions MOM will impose in response to continuing complaints against discriminatory job advertisements. In brief, when recruiting on behalf of their clients, EAs will have to:

      • comply with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) as well as brief their clients on TAFEP requirements;
      • make reasonable efforts to attract Singapore candidates for vacancies; and
      • avoid abetting any discriminatory hiring by their clients: to ensure the clients consider all candidates based on merit, EAs must:
        • not withhold applications on the basis of age, race, nationality, gender and disability; and
        • turn down requests or instructions from clients to carry out discriminatory hiring.

Where employers have specific needs and are looking to hire candidates with certain capabilities, we would be happy to review your and your EAs hiring processes, including job advertisements, candidate selection and other employment practices, for compliance with the enhanced Fair Consideration Framework and TAFEP. Please also refer to our Alert: Ministry of Manpower enforces fair and progressive employment practices against discriminatory employers for examples of discriminatory job advertisements and the recommended fair hiring practices.

In more detail

The MOM will investigate all complaints against EAs and, should the MOM find the EAs failing to comply with any licence conditions, including the new conditions when these come into force, the MOM may penalise the EA as follows:

      • issue the EA with demerit points;
      • suspend or revoke the EA’s licence; or
      • prosecute the EA.

The MOM may also suspend the employer’s work pass privileges, or prosecute the employer.

For progressive EAs which demonstrate a strong commitment to fair recruitment practices and have helped employers to strengthen their Singaporean core, the MOM will recognise their contribution with a Human Capital Partnership (HCP) Mark, previously only awarded to exemplary employers. A HCP Mark holder will enjoy benefits such as:

      • a dedicated MOM hotline for queries;
      • priority processing for MOM transactions; and
      • access to government support and resource.

MOM will also appoint selected EAs as Placement Partners under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package to assist local mature jobseekers, long-term unemployed jobseekers or persons with disabilities find full time employment or traineeships.


Celeste Ang is a principal in Baker McKenzie's Singapore office. Celeste Ang’s practice encompasses corporate litigation and arbitration, both domestic and cross-border. She also has significant experience advising clients on compliance and regulatory issues in the context of investigations, and on a wide range of employment and employment-related issues. Celeste is ranked by Chambers Asia Pacific in the areas of litigation and employment and by Chambers Global in the area of litigation. She is described as "very smart, very innovative - a good example of someone who thinks outside the box" and "very technically competent, very thorough and very responsive" by clients.


Kelvin Poa is a principal in Baker McKenzie's Singapore office. He is an investment fund corporate and regulatory professional, and leads the Firm's Asia Pacific Private Equity group. He draws on his extensive background in private equity — and proficiency in fund formation and structuring — to deliver innovative and workable solutions for clients. He advises leading private equity and real estate houses to find ‘fund compatible’ structures for their investment acquisitions, restructurings and exits — and assists asset management clients to navigate transformational transactions or complex reorganisations successfully. Kelvin is recognised by leading legal directories for his experience in fund formation.


Clarence Ding is a senior associate in Baker McKenzie's Singapore office. His practice encompasses general civil and commercial litigation, with an emphasis on employment law, white-collar crime and fraud. Clarence regularly advises clients on compliance-related issues, as well as both internal and external investigations.


Ng Zhao Yang is a local principal in the Employment Practice Group of Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow in Singapore. He has over 10 years of experience advising regional and multinational clients on employment law and immigration matters in Singapore. He has been recognised as an “Up and Coming” individual by Chambers & Partners Asia-Pacific 2023 in the Singapore Employment: Domestic category. Clients who spoke to Chambers described him as "an outstanding resource" and "Highly recommend(ed)." He is also recognised as a “Next Generation Partner” by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2023 in the Singapore Labour and employment: Local firms category.