NOTE SENT TO PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SINGAPORE ON 13 SEPTEMBER 2011
"I wish to draw your attention to an advertisement on the Law Society website.
The advertisement states, "Roy & Partners are expanding and have vacancies for Chinese Junior and Senior Litigation Secretaries to handle motor claims and personal injury claims."
The Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices provides unequivocally, "Race should not be a criterion for the selection of job candidates as multiracialism is a fundamental principle in Singapore. Selection based on race is unacceptable... If a job entails proficiency in a particular language, employers should justify the need for the requirement. This would reduce ambiguity and minimise incidence of misunderstanding between the job seekers and the recruiting party."
One would have expected that a website that represents a noble profession like ours to be more sensitive. The Law Society has a duty not to encourage such unacceptable employment practices. It can do better in working with the National Trades Union Congress to educate law firms about fair employment practices.
I hope corrective and preventive measures will be taken to prevent a recurrence of such incidents."
REPLY RECEIVED FROM LAW SOCIETY PRESIDENT ON 13 SEPTEMBER 2011
The reply accepted "that a person should be employed on the basis of his job qualifications and not on the basis of his race" and advertisements "will be screened for their contents to prevent a recurrence of such advertisements", in order to prevent it from being offensive for any reason.
UPDATE ON 14 SEPTEMBER 2011
The previously controversial sentence now reads, "Roy & Partners are expanding and have vacancies for Junior and Senior Litigation Secretaries to handle motor claims and personal injury claims."
Interestingly, a new requirement has been added - "bilingual in English and Chinese" - with no explanation as to what this requirement has to do with the role. Hundreds of legal professionals, including litigation secretaries, in this country "handle motor claims and personal injury claims" without being "bilingual in English and Chinese".
Law firms like these can be encouraged to adopt the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices. The partners that run such firms should be persuaded to attend fair employment training programmes. Perhaps, the Law Society, as an employer, will lead by example and adopt these guidelines.
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