Singapore

Singapore

Region: Asia

Disability Definition

There is no statutory definition of disability in the employment context under Singapore law. The Singapore Government uses the World Health Organisation International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, known more commonly as ICF.

Singapore’s Enabling Masterplan helps to define disability as “those whose prospects of securing, retaining places and advancing in education and training institutions, employment and recreation as equal members of the community are substantially reduced as a result of physical, sensory, intellectual and developmental impairments”.

Legislation

Article 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore states that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.”

On 30th November 2012, Singapore signed the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Agreement was then ratified on 18 July 2013 and came into effect for Singapore on 18 August 2013.

Employer Legal Requirements

No quota or goal in place.

Instead of having legislation to protect employees from discrimination based on disability, Singapore has adopted a promotional and education approach. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) has guidelines on fair employment practices, encouraging employers to adopt progressive Human Resource (HR) practices.

Special Employment Credit (SEC) is offered as an incentive for companies to hire Singaporean workers with disabilities. Employers will get a credit of up to 16% of the wages of their worker with disabilities.

Accessibility Requirements

Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) has reviewed and strengthened the Code on Accessibility in the Built Environment 2013. the above Code only applies to buildings that are constructed after the Code came into effect. There is no legislation to ensure older buildings are accessible.

The Government also provides funding support to companies to make their workplace and buildings more accessible to persons with disabilities. The two schemes are as follows: 1) Open Door Programme (ODP) provides up to 90% subsidy of workplace modification. 2) Accessibility Fund subsidies up to 80% of the construction cost of basic accessibility features such as ramps, lifts, accessible toilets and signage.

Cultural Norms

Singapore has four national languages – they are Chinese, Tamil, English and Malay.

People who were unable to work have often been seen through a utilitarian lens, since they were deemed as unable to contribute economically to the country.

Many Singaporeans are unsure how to interact with people with disabilities because the etiquette in such situations was unclear.

Insights

it is estimated that more than 110,000 Singaporeans have some form of disability, approximately 3% of the citizens living there. For individuals over 50, around 13.3% are considered disabled.

Singapore does not have specific anti-discrimination legislation and NGOs believe companies will continue to have discriminative practices and attitudes towards persons with disabilities until they do adopt such legislation.

Transitioning from a sheltered workshop approach to integrated, inclusive and supported employment models

Supplier Diversity

Certification is in place for women-owned business enterprises (WeConnect).

LGBT rights have been slow to progress and supplier diversity would be less likely to occur since society is less likely to support LGBT-owned businesses. Pink Dot SG is an annual LGBT-rights event that is elevating the voice of the community and starting to demand change. Learn more about Pink Dot here: https://pinkdot.sg/

Talent Sourcing Resources

SG Enable – Disability Employment: Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents only. Disabilities supported by SG Enable for adult services are: autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, physical impairment, hearing impairment and visual impairment. Open Doors Programme is a government supported grant for working with employers. https://employment.sgenable.sg/employers/open-door-programme/

RISE Mentorship Programme (at SG Enable) – https://employment.sgenable.sg/students/rise-mentorship-programme/

The Enabling Employers Network (EEN) is an alliance of like-minded employers of persons with disabilities who champion and advance the employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Members of EEN have collectively employed a total of about 200 persons with disabilities.

Additional Resources

The Disabled People’s Association (DPA) is a non-profit, cross-disability organisation, officially registered in Singapore on 28th April 1986. We are a full member of the National Council of Social Service and also are registered as an Institution of Public Character with approval to issue tax-exemption receipts to our donors. https://www.dpa.org.sg/

Singapore Accessibility Resource Directory https://www.dpa.org.sg/resources/singapore-disability-websites/

Third Enabling Master Plan – Critical document outlining employment objectives, including a call for the private sector to lead the way for inclusive hiring https://www.ncss.gov.sg/NCSS/media/NCSS-Documents-and-Forms/EM3-Final_Report_20161219.pdf

Singapore Assn for the Deaf http://www.sadeaf.org.sg/

Singapore Assn for the Visually Handicappted https://savh.org.sg/

ASEAN Disability Forum (ASEAN-DF) is a network composed by DPOs of the ASEAN countries of Southeast Asia. It is a platform where DPOs coordinate actions to advocate for disability inclusive policy formulation and implementation. http://aseandisabilityforum.org/

References

Launch of Inclusive Business Forum – http://www.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/new-and-announcements/2016/26_Feb_2016.html

Government’s CRPD Web Page: http://www.ncss.org.sg/social_service/uncrpd.asp

Calendar of Community Events https://www.dpa.org.sg/past-events/