Employees recovered $16m in claims with help from tripartite alliance

Most had cases for owed salaries or wrongful dismissal fully resolved for the year to March

Employees who made claims for owed salaries or wrongful dismissal between April 2019 and March this year managed to recover about $16 million in all from their employers.

About 91 per cent of the 6,537 employees who made claims had their cases fully resolved at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and the Employment Claims Tribunals. They received the full sums of salaries owed or compensation.

This was revealed by the Tripartite Alliance Limited (TAL) yesterday in its annual report for the year ended March 31 this year.

In the financial year that ended on March 31 last year, TADM recovered around $15 million in salaries owed to employees in Singapore, with about 90 per cent of employees who filed claims fully recovering their salaries.

TAL was set up by the Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation in 2016.

It oversees TADM, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep), and the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council.

In April last year, the Employment Act and the Employment Claims Act were amended to allow all employees - including those who earn more than $4,500 a month - to file claims against their employers for wrongful dismissal. This extended protection to more managers and executives against wrongful dismissal.

Workers who wish to make a wrongful dismissal claim must first undergo mediation with their employers at TADM. If this is unsuccessful, they will be referred to the Employment Claims Tribunals.

Since the changes, 1,958 employees had sought advice from TADM on suspected wrongful dismissal between April last year and March this year, said TAL yesterday.

Of these, 831 employees were offered mediation services, and most of them reached mutually acceptable solutions with their employers without having to escalate the dispute for adjudication at the Employment Claims Tribunals.

Most of the dismissal claims lodged involved rank-and-file employees who were dismissed without notice, or who disputed the reasons for dismissal. These cases were resolved through mediation with TADM's help, said TAL.

In cases where workers' services were terminated in accordance with their employment contracts, TADM referred them to the Employment Claims Tribunals for adjudication without mediation.

  • 91%

    Percentage of 6,537 employees who made claims who had their cases fully resolved at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and the Employment Claims Tribunals. They received the full sums of salaries owed or compensation.

    $15m

    How much in salaries owed to employees in Singapore TADM recovered in the financial year ended March 31, 2019, with about 90 per cent of employees who filed claims fully recovering their salaries.

    1,958

    Number of employees who had sought advice from TADM on suspected wrongful dismissal between April last year and March this year.

    42%

    Increase in workplace discrimination or harassment complaints to Tafep, with one in four complaints related to fair consideration for Singaporeans in hiring practices


ST ILLUSTRATION: MANNY FRANCISCO

Meanwhile, there was a 42 per cent increase in workplace discrimination or harassment complaints to Tafep, with one in four complaints related to fair consideration for Singaporeans in hiring practices.

One in 10 complaints was related to age discrimination and one in 13 complaints was related to gender discrimination. TAL said the increase in complaints was due to the expanded scope of issues handled by Tafep, which includes workplace harassment and unfair contractual terms including liquidated damages and restraint of trade.

"The enhanced fair consideration framework which put up harsher penalties on employers for discriminatory hiring practices also contributed to the increase," the tripartite alliance added in its report.

The WSH Council has also brought more companies on board its workplace safety and health programmes such as bizSAFE and cultureSAFE.

TAL chairman Stephen Lee said that as at May this year, about 90 of its employees have taken on various roles to fight Covid-19, such as supporting the Ministry of Manpower's operations in foreign worker dormitories.

"Now, more than ever, the spirit of cooperation and partnership in tripartism has proven to be invaluable. Employers, workers and the Government need to work together to save jobs, adapt to new ways of working, and support national efforts to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate its effects," he said in the report.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2020, with the headline 'Employees recovered $16m in claims with help from tripartite alliance'. Print Edition | Subscribe