The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation jointly released in November 2017 the new Tripartite Standards on Recruitment Practices, the 4th one so far.

As per the previous Tripartite Standards, the Tripartite Standards on Recruitment Practices are not mandatory but the benefit of its adoption, as with the other recently released Tripartite Standards, allows employers to distinguish themselves in key employment practices that employees would look for, thereby enhancing the employer's ability to attract and retain employees.

The key purpose of the Tripartite Standards on Recruitment Practices is to provide a clear framework which an employer may follow when recruiting new employees. The aim of this framework is to ensure that all hiring decisions are fair, inclusive, and merit-based.

Another practical point to note about having a fair, inclusive, and merit-based recruitment process is that an employer will be able to find the most suitable candidate for the role, since the focus will be on matching the candidate's skills with the skills that are required for the role. Further, adopting inclusive recruitment practices can enhance an employer's reputation by demonstrating to potential employees that the employer places value on diversity.

Adopting the Standards

The Tripartite Standards on Recruitment Practices suggest taking the following steps to fully adopt the Standards:

Job Advertisements

  • Job advertisements should only state the selection criteria that are related to the qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience required for the job.
  • If a particular attribute is required for a role, and the attribute appears to exclude candidates on divisive grounds, then the reasons for requiring that attribute should be stated clearly in the job advertisement. For illustrative purposes, if an employer requires the candidate to be able to speak Mandarin, the job advertisement should state the reasons why the employer requires a person fluent in Mandarin i.e. the job position is for a service role that will deal primarily with Chinese clients etc.

Job Application Forms

  • Job application forms should only request for information that is pertinent to assess the candidate's suitability for a role.
  • Job application forms should not request information on age, date of birth, gender, race, religion, marital status, family responsibilities (including whether a candidate is pregnant or has children), disabilities, unless the information is required to assess a candidate's suitability for a role. Reasons should be provided if the above information is requested for in a job application form.

Job Interviews

  • Objective selection criteria should be developed and used consistently in job interviews.
  • A proper record of the interview, assessment process, test and job offer should be made and kept for at least one year.
  • Unsuccessful candidates should be informed of the outcome of their interview.
  • Hiring managers and staff should be trained to conduct fair and unbiased interviews.

Shift in Recruitment Standards in Singapore

The introduction of the Tripartite Standards on Recruitment Practices comes at the advent of the MOM making unannounced changes in the Employment Pass (EP) application process in November 2017.

The EP is the most common work pass that foreign professionals obtain if they wish to work in Singapore.

Previously, the hiring process that an employer followed which led to the hiring and the consequential application for the EP for the foreigner was not a factor that the MOM considered in granting an EP.

However, the MOM's recent changes to the EP application process now require employers to disclose their decision making process in hiring a foreigner as opposed to a Singapore citizen or a Singapore permanent resident.

Adopting the Tripartite Standards on Recruitment Practices can therefore also be useful if an employer makes EP applications on a frequent basis, since the Tripartite Standards recommend that an employer document the job interview and candidate assessment process. The information will therefore be readily available when an employer has to make an EP application and has to disclose information on the hiring process.


While it is not mandatory to adopt the Tripartite Standards on Recruitment Practices, there are practical benefits of adopting the standards and following the guidelines as outlined above in this client alert.

Our team will be happy to connect and share with you more of our expertise on all the relevant issues surrounding recruitment, including but not limited to drafting and reviewing HR manuals on conducting job interviews, and reviewing job advertisements and application forms.

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