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In brief

Following the concerns raised by some politicians that the repeal of section 377A of the Penal Code (which criminalises consensual homosexual acts in private between male adults) may result in employees being pressured to attend their employers’ inclusion and diversity events, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and its tripartite partners the Singapore National Employers Federation and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) have added new guidelines to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP).

These new guidelines seek to proactively preserve a harmonious workplace by:

  • Requiring employers to exercise sensitivity at the workplace, with regard to activities that are not related to work.
  • Assuring employees of “different backgrounds … and beliefs” that they should not be pressured to participate in non-work related events, programmes and policies.

The expanded TGFEP will take effect in mid-February 2023. In this Alert, we provide the key takeaways for these new guidelines as well as the background to this development.

Key takeaways

When announcing the new guidelines, MOM recognised the importance of employers’ continued demonstration and communication of the importance of an inclusive and harmonious workplace. While the new guidelines do not prevent employers from developing, promoting or implementing any events, programmes and policies that are not related to work, when planning for these events, employers should:

  • Be sensitive to the diverse cultures, values and beliefs of their employees.
  • Not require or pressure employees to participate in events, programmes and policies that are not related to work.
  • Provide employees with a safe environment to raise their concerns, including through a proper grievance handling process.

Additionally, employers should expressly communicate to employees that:

  • Employees are assessed for performance, promotion and related areas based only on work-related requirements, as stipulated in the TGFEP.
  • An employee’s non-support or non-participation will not affect that employee’s employment outcomes that are not related to work.
  • Support for any cause should not lead to bullying, harassment or ostracism at the workplace in any circumstances.

Employees may report instances of noncompliance with the TGFEP to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, which will refer cases to MOM for investigation. MOM may curtail work pass privileges of noncompliant employers.


The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment No 3) Bill, which expressly enables Parliament to legislate the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, was introduced in response to the repeal of section 377A of the Penal Code by the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill.

In the parliamentary debates1 over both Bills, certain political reservations were expressed, such as:

  • Where “support [of] values that promote the role of the family as the basic building block of society” required “protect[ing] Singaporeans from being intimidated or harassed simply because they disagree with the lifestyle of the gay community”
  • “Feedback that employees in international organisations or [multinational corporations] located within Singapore are harassed in their workplace if they do not support the gay beliefs or if they refuse to attend a pride event”

Representatives of the NTUC also expressed concern that all employees should be treated fairly based on merit and should not be discriminated against based on any non-job-related characteristics, which may include faith or identity.

The new guidelines may be seen as the result of MOM and its tripartite partners assuring employees that these concerns are met by recommending employers respect and show sensitivity to the personal beliefs and values of all employees by not promoting activities in such a way that could potentially give rise to bullying or discrimination.

Second Reading of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment No 3) Bill, Sitting Date: 28-11-2022


Celeste is a Principal in our Dispute Resolution and Employment Practice Groups. Her practice encompasses corporate and commercial dispute resolution, compliance and investigations. She has significant experience acting for global clients in cross-border disputes and advising clients on compliance and regulatory issues in the context of cross-border investigations. Celeste also has a particular focus in employment, particularly contentious employment work and employee investigations, and currently heads Baker McKenzie's Asia Pacific Employment & Compensation Practice. Celeste has been recognised as a 'Litigation Star' in the Labor and Employment space by Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, 2021 and has been ranked Band 1 in Employment in Singapore by Chambers Asia-Pacific since 2019 to date. She is recognised as "highly regarded in Singapore for her employment law advice, handling unfair dismissal claims and retrenchments"; a "source praises her 'very responsive and practical advice'" and that "Celeste is a brilliant lawyer and is able to provide effective advice to clients in a timely manner." Celeste is also ranked as a Leading Individual in Labour and employment in Singapore by Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022 and noted as "a litigator with a strong record in employment disputes" and in the foreign firms section as "a dispute resolution specialist with an extensive record in contentious employment matters".


Kelvin is a principal in the Corporate & Securities, Investment Funds and Employment Practice Groups in Singapore. Kelvin is recognised by various legal publications as a leading lawyer for investment funds and employment in Singapore.


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 is recognised as an “Up and Coming” individual by Chambers & Partners Asia-Pacific 2024 in the Singapore Employment: Domestic category. Clients who spoke to Chambers described him as “very responsive,” “well-versed" and "provides technically strong and commercial advice." He is also recognised as a “Next Generation Partner” by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2024 in Singapore, in the Labour and employment: Local firms and Foreign firms categories.

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