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Singapore to establish employment claims tribunal

Singapore will set up a tribunal next year to hear salary-related disputes from workers, the Ministry of Manpower has said.18 Aug 2016

These disputes are generally resolved either through unions, through the Ministry of Manpower's labour court, or the civil courts, Manpower minister Lim Swee Say said.

The new Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT) will be established by April 2017 and will take over from the labour court, which currently adjudicates salary-related claims for workers covered under the Employment Act who earn up to S$4,500 (£2,570) a month.

It will also hear contractual salary-related claims including payment of allowances, bonuses, commissions, salary in lieu of notice and retrenchment benefits, "provided that these are expressed in monetary terms in the contract", Lim said.

"Public servants, domestic workers and seafarers will continue to be able to bring their statutory salary-related claims regarding employment assistance payment and maternity benefits to the ECT, just as for the labour court," he said.

However, contractual salary-related claims of these groups of employees will not be heard at the ECT, but through the public service’s internal processes, Lim said.

"Domestic workers can approach their employment agencies and MOM to resolve employment disputes," he said.

All parties will be required to go through mediation by MOM-approved mediators before their claims can be heard at the ECT.

"This is because our experience shows that mediation is an effective way of resolving salary-related claims amicably between the parties. More than 90% of labour court claims were resolved at the mediation stage without having to go through formal hearings," Lim said.

A Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management will be set up to conduct the pre-ECT mediation and serve as the MOM’s approved mediation centre for all employees, both unionised and non-unionised workers, Lim said. 

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