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Singapore considers Employment Claims Tribunal for all employees

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has proposed the establishment of an Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT) to cover all salary-related Employment Act claims.29 Feb 2016

Currently, the Labour Court provides adjudication services for salary related claims under the Employment Act. However, professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) who earn more than S$4,500 ($3,200) a month are not covered by the Act and have to file any claims against their employers through the civil courts, MOM said.

The civil court process can be lengthy and costly, MOM said.

MOM has therefore asked for feedback on a proposed tribunal to resolve all salary-related Employment Act claims in one place. The ECT would be set up under Singapore's state courts, similar to the country's Small Claims Tribunal and would take over the work of the current Labour Court as well as taking on higher-income PME claims, MOM said.

Public servants, domestic workers and seafarers are also not covered by the Employment Act. They will not initially be allowed to file claims with the ECT but this may change "at a later date when operations have stabilised", MOM said.

A mediation process will try to resolve claims before they reach the ECT, MOM said.

There will be a S$20,000 cap on claims, it said, with a higher cap of $30,000 for claimants who go through the Tripartite Mediation Framework or MOM conciliation.

Workplace grievances such as unfair dismissal and discrimination will not be covered by the ECT. 

Singapore-based Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind said: "This is a game changer in response to growing proportion of PMEs who form a part of the resident workforce and who have borne the brunt of the restructuring that the economy has undergone. This process offers a more cost-efficient avenue to bring salary-related claims against employers."

Feedback on the proposal can be given until 23 March, MOM said.

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