Know Your Employment Obligations in light of COVID-19 - Fair Recruitment

Find out your obligations as an employer when conducting job interviews in light of COVID-19.

11 Mar 2020 Articles Recruitment Best practices

In view of the evolving Coronavirus Disease (COVID-2019), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released an advisory for employers with employees who have been served with a quarantine order or placed on leave of absence (LOA) or stay-home notice (SHN). Employers may refer to MOM’s advisory on the options employers can adopt and implement at the workplace and their responsibility towards the employee during this period of time.


Refer to the latest advisories and updates on COVID-19 at the following link: 

https://www.mom.gov.sg/covid-19

Q: In light of the COVID-19, what is TAFEP’s advice about conducting face-to-face interviews with job candidates at the workplace?


TAFEP’s advice:
Companies which are conducting face-to-face interviews with potential candidates should put in place precautionary measures to control and log the access of visitors to their workplaces. Where possible, conduct temperature screening and look out for individuals who may be unwell (e.g. respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose). Companies may also reschedule their appointments to another day when they have recovered.

Before the job interview, companies may contact the candidates via phone or email to:

  • Check their travel history to countries affected by COVID-19 within the last 14 days
    (refer to
    MOM’s advisory for the list of affected areas), and/or
  • If they have fever or respiratory symptoms (such as cough, runny nose, breathlessness.

If the candidates inform the company that they have recently travelled to or returned from an affected area, they should be advised not to attend the face-to-face interview and consult a doctor immediately if they are feeling unwell. The company should reschedule the job interview to another day, or to consider an alternative platform to conduct the job interview (e.g. over the phone and/or video conferencing) and explain the reasons for doing so.

Tips to conduct a job interview over the phone or video

Conducting job interviews over the phone or video (or a combination of both) are commonly used by companies as alternatives to face-to-face interviews. They are generally viewed as efficient and time-saving methods to help employers make an initial assessment of the candidate’s suitability for the job without the need to meet in person.

In order to leverage the benefits mentioned, employers need to set a clear structure and agenda as part of the interview process, such as:

  • Interviewers should begin with a self-introduction of themselves and the organisation;
  • Explaining the structure and flow of the interview;
  • Establishing what the candidate can expect or is required to do as part of the interview, and
  • Clarifying what the interviewer/s would like to achieve from the interview.

To ensure that candidates are treated fairly and with respect, employers are expected to abide by the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices when conducting any job interviews - be it in person, over the phone or video. What this means for employers is they need to ensure that employees involved in recruitment (e.g. supervisors / line managers conducting the interview) are appropriately trained on the principles of fair employment practices and are conscious not to stereotype candidates based on criteria that are not relevant to the job. They are to recruit and select employees based on merit, use objective selection criteria and non-discriminatory interview questions throughout the interview process.

Refer to TAFEP’s website for a comprehensive list of recommendations as a guide:
https://www.tal.sg/tafep/Employment-Practices/Recruitment/Job-Interviews

Benefits of conducting a fair job interview

Holding a fair interview process and asking questions directly related to the selection criteria can help employers find the right candidate for the job, ensure that there is no bias in the process, and position the company as a forward-thinking and progressive employer.

For further queries regarding fair employment practices, please contact:

Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP)
TAFEP Hotline: 6838 0969
https://www.tal.sg/tafep 

Advisories on COVID-19

The tripartite partners – the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) – have issued an advisory on the appropriate workplace measures to guide employers to continue running their operations while minimising risks of community spread of the COVID-19.

Employers should regularly check the MOM and MOH website for the latest information on the COVID-19 situation and review their Business Continuity Plans processes and measures to ensure that they remain relevant. MOM, MTI, NTUC and SNEF had also issued an advisory for employers on additional precautionary measures for stepping up cleaning of work premises and on serving customers who are unwell.

For further queries regarding COVID-19, please contact:

Ministry of Manpower
MOM Contact Centre:
6438 5122
www.mom.gov.sg

Ministry of Health
MOH General Hotline:
6325 9220
www.moh.gov.sg

Click on the following links to read our earlier articles:

Additional resources on Employment Act 

Employer Advisory Service @ TAFEP (EAS) – EAS consultants will provide scenario-based advice to employers on the Employment Act and relevant parts of the Child Development Co-Savings Act, Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, and Retirement and Re-employment Act, which impact employment terms and conditions.

EAS consultants do not provide legal advice and will not discuss points of law. We will only provide practical guidance on the application of the Employment Act and other labour laws related to the specific scenarios that are raised by employers, and share good employment practices that are adopted by industry peers and employers in Singapore.

For more information on EAS@TAFEP, please visit https://www.tafep.sg/eastafep