Last year during his National Day Rally (NDR) 2021 speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singapore will be codifying workplace anti-discrimination legislation through enshrining the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP).
During the two days of sessions between representatives from the Singapore government and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the topic of employment and discrimination arose on multiple occasions. However, when speaking of the upcoming workplace anti-discrimination legislation Singapore will be codifying, representatives from the Singapore government noted that “The Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness is deliberating the details including whether reasonable accommodations will be addressed in the legislation.”
DPA is concerned about this statement made by representatives from the Singapore government. The provision to ensure reasonable accommodations is a core, essential, and indispensable component of any workplace anti-discrimination legislation along with a key standard of the CRPD to ensure non-discrimination. Reasonable accommodations are indispensable essentials for persons with disabilities to participate in the labour market and to attain employment. Thus, a workplace anti-discrimination legislation that does not include provisions to ensure reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities is a legislation that will be ineffective in preventing employers from excluding persons with disabilities from the workforce.
The following explainer thus aims to outline disability-based discrimination in the context of employment, and to explain why reasonable accommodations are essential in combatting discrimination in employment – and hence why they should be included in the upcoming workplace anti-discrimination legislation.