Workplace Violence Against Women

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Violence against women in the workplace not only affects the woman involved but can also negatively impact morale, cohesion, productivity and reputation of the organisation.

Workplace violence against women includes

Workplace Harassment

Any act that causes or intends to cause physical, sexual or psychological harm or discomfort to women in work-related situations. These acts can be done face to face, or otherwise/virtually, through email, messaging or social media. It can also be termed ‘workplace bullying’.

Some examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Threats to job, family or victim
  • Ridiculing or insulting a colleague
  • Throwing objects or physically hitting a colleague
  • Cyber-bullying a colleague (posting photos, spreading malicious falsehoods, direct threats through email, message etc)
  • Sexual Assault: inappropriate touching or forceful penetration of a colleague without consent
  • Sexual Harassment: making sexualised gestures/comments/invites, stalking, or filming a colleague without consent
Signs of Workplace Harassment
  • ‘Quid pro quo’ behaviour where something is given in exchange for something else (i.e. requesting for sexual favours in exchange for a promotion)
  • Hostile work environment (i.e. offensive jokes, slurs, name calling, physical assault, threats/intimidation, ridicule/mockery/insults, offensive objects)
  • Behaviour or communication patterns that can interfere with the victim’s work performance
What can I do if I am experiencing similar scenarios?
  • If possible, distance yourself from the perpetrator or find ways to escape.
  • Otherwise, tell the perpetrator clearly and assertively to stop his/her behaviour. You can adopt a buddy system or a pre-arranged distress signal with a trusted colleague.
  • Keep any evidence
  • Document your work performance (a safeguard in case your work performance is questioned).
  • Seek advice from
  • Make reports to
  • Seek legal help.
  • If you are a union member, you can also approach your union for assistance.

For more details, see TAFEP’s website here.

How can I seek legal help?

For cases of sexual assault, see here.

For harassment cases non-sexual in nature, the same protections as sexual harassment is applied. Learn more here.

If acts of harassment (e.g. threats) are made regarding employment terms, know your employment rights here.

What should I do if I witness similar scenarios happening to a colleague?

Without compromising your own safety, you can

  • Approach victim to provide support
  • Distract perpetrator or seek help from others
  • Call out undesirable behaviour
  • Point the victim to other formal sources of help (i.e. helplines) but let them decide what to do next.
  • Alert and seek help from management or security personnel

If your organisation does not have a policy to manage harassment, you can call or file a report with ​TAFEP.

How can colleagues support the victim?
  • Offer a listening ear to the victim
  • Do NOT judge or impose your opinion on the victim
  • Accompany victim to inform management or personally alert management
  • Point the victim to other formal sources of help (i.e. helplines, legal clinics)
  • Share evidence if available (i.e. documents, photographs, video recordings)
What can companies do to prevent workplace harassment?

Adopt workplace harassment guidelines by Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP). This includes proper policies and procedures dealing with harassment cases and training employees in order to build a zero tolerance culture towards harassment.

Singapore Statistics

Workplace Harassment Cases received by

1. Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP):
● 27 cases from March 2019 to August 2019

2. Ministry of Manpower (MOM):
● 13 cases (2019)
● 9 cases (2018)
● 0 cases (2017)

● 2.4% of Singaporean resident labour force reported having personally experienced bullying or harassment in their workplace (MOM, 2018).
● In a 2008 research study on Workplace Sexual Harrassment by AWARE, 54% of 500 respondents experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment and 79% of the victims are women.

Discriminatory Practices in the Workplace

Unfair treatment towards women in the workplace. This need not just be based on gender but can include race, religion, marital status, age, maternity-related etc.

Examples include:

  • Being suddenly demoted after announcing pregnancy
  • Unfounded salary differences with other colleagues of same level
  • Being denied opportunities for no good reason
  • Unfair dismissal
What can I do if I am experiencing similar scenarios?
What should I do if I witness similar scenarios happening to a fellow colleague?
  • Approach the colleague to provide support and a listening ear
  • Consult HR or the management
How can I seek legal help?

The following statutes form an overview of employment practices that employers need to adopt. More information can be found on the MOM website.

Employment Act

Related to contract/termination of service, payment of salary, rest days, working hours, types of leave, documentary requirements, other conditions of service and maternity protection.

Assess eligibility here.

Child Development Co-savings Act

Related to maternity protection and benefits, leave related to adoption, childcare, parents or paternity.

Assess eligibility here.

Retirement and Re-employment Act Related to retirement and re-employment opportunities.
Fair Consideration Framework Related to non-discriminatory hiring processes.

For wrongful dismissals based on age, you can appeal directly to MOM here. For other wrongful dismissals, you can file a claim with Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) here. This should be done immediately (within a month of dismissal). More details about wrongful dismissals can be found here.

To report violations of any of these acts, contact Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP). TAFEP may contact you for more information and follow up with the organisation and parties involved. Privacy concerns can be stated in the report.

What can companies do to prevent discriminatory practices?

Depending on what practices and policies your organisation currently has, you can:

The full checklist to become an exemplary employer can be found here.

Singapore Statistics

Gender Wage Gap (MOM, 2020)
In 2018, Singapore’s unadjusted gender pay gap is 16.3% and the adjusted pay gap is 6%.

Wrongful dismissal
○ 57 pregnancy-related unfair dismissals (TODAY, 2017)

○ There has been an increase the the number of wrongful dismissal claims filed since the start of Circuit Breaker (MOM, 2020)

   ■ Average claims per month (Apr 19 – Dec 19): 81

   ■ Average claims per month (Jan 20 – Mar 20): 88

   ■ Number of claims in Apr 20: 172