SINGAPORE - The High Court on Wednesday (June 30) ordered SBS Transit to pay $7,000 in legal costs to 13 bus drivers who are suing the transport operator over overtime pay.
The costs order was in relation to a successful application earlier this month by the drivers to transfer the case from the State Courts to the High Court.
In civil litigation, the legal costs of an action are usually awarded to the successful litigant.
The drivers claim in their suits, filed in 2019 and last year, that they had been made to work without a rest day each week and were underpaid for overtime work.
Last year, the parties agreed for the suit relating to one plaintiff, Mr Chua Qwong Meng, to be heard as a test case to save time and money.
The court's decision and findings on Mr Chua's suit will be binding on all the plaintiffs.
In March, the drivers' lawyer, Mr M. Ravi, argued for the test case to be transferred on the grounds that the case raised important questions of law that will affect a larger class of employees in Singapore.
In a judgment on June 10, High Court judge Audrey Lim agreed and allowed the case to be transferred.
She said the question of whether mandated rest days and limits to work hours provided for in the Employment Act can be overridden when an employee is deemed to provide essential services was important.
Justice Lim said there would be potential ramifications on how such employment contracts are structured in terms of granting days off, computing overtime pay and determining work hours.
The trial is likely to start in September, said Mr Ravi.
Separately, the drivers have started a crowdfunding campaign to fund their legal battle. They have raised $4,745 to date.