The tribunals will provide an accessible and expeditious avenue to resolve disputes, according to the Singapore government
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has logged an 80% success rate in its pilot programme involving voluntary mediation for disputes outside the scope of Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT), said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say in Parliament last week. “We have tried out 50 cases so far involving disputes over termination, training bonds and so on,” according to Lim.
This comes as operations of ECT and the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) begin on 1 April. There are currently three avenues for resolving salary-related disputes: unions, civil courts, and the Labour Court for employees covered by the Employment Act.
The ECT will replace the role of the Commissioner for Labour in adjudicating statutory salary-related claims under the Employment Act (EA), Retirement and Re-employment Act (RRA) and Child Development Co-Savings Act (CDCA). The ECT will also hear contractual salary-related claims, MOM said.
TADM will provide advisory and mediation services, including mediation before claims can be heard at ECT. Parties with a salary-related dispute should first register their claims at TADM. Claims which cannot be resolved through mediation will then be referred to the ECT for adjudication.
Parliament passed the Employment Claims Act in August to resolve salary-related disputes, both statutory and contractual. “This is especially helpful for PMEs [professionals, managers, and executives], who are not covered by the Employment Act (EA) and have no access to the Labour Court,” said Lim.
TADM will also operate a “Short Term Relief Fund” for low wage workers, Lim said. This aims to provide quick relief to such earners who are owed salary by employers in financial difficulties or facing business failure.
TADM will operate from two locations, which will provide the relevant employment support and assistance. The Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability (DNI), located in Jurong East, will focus on local employees. The MOM Services Centre, located in Bendemeer, will focus on work pass holders. MOM will provide support for workers with stay or work pass issues.
More than 150 employers have been convicted in the last three years for failing to pay their workers, according to MOM figures.