How the Tripartite Alliance Limited helps workers: 3 case studies

The Tripartite Alliance Limited outlined in its annual report instances where it helped workers and companies resolve issues.
The Tripartite Alliance Limited outlined in its annual report instances where it helped workers and companies resolve issues.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - The Tripartite Alliance Limited (TAL) outlined in its annual report on Monday (Oct 18) several instances where it helped workers and companies resolve issues. Here are three of them:

Workplace harassment

A former human resource (HR) manager of a company in the financial industry alleged that her department head made inappropriate comments with sexual overtones at a meeting.

Mary (not her real name) filed an internal report but was not given an update.

She approached her MP, appealing for an investigation to be conducted. The MP referred her appeal to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep), which contacted Mary's company's chief executive officer.

The CEO and the company's legal counsel investigated the complaint, and the company acknowledged that inappropriate comments were made.

It served a warning letter to the department head.

The company subsequently let Tafep review its whistle-blowing and grievance-handling policy, which was found to be robust.

Tafep then asked the company to update the complainant on the outcome of the investigations and actions taken.

Tafep also reiterated the need to communicate clearly and promptly to employees the policies and procedures pertaining to the filing of reports and handling grievances.

Employment contract dispute

Mr Rama and his employee, Nancy (not their real names), contacted the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) for help to resolve a dispute.

Nancy had received a bonus of $1,500 after serving the company for eight months and resigned after working for a total of 12 months.

Mr Rama deducted $1,500 from her salary, as he claimed Nancy would be entitled to this bonus only if she had completed the full bond period of 16 months.

Nancy, however, pointed out that the employment contract did not state that the company had the right to recover this bonus.

According to the Employment Act, employers may deduct employees' salaries only for specific reasons stated in the Act. Recovery of the bonus in this situation was not supported by the Act.

Mr Rama accepted TADM's mediator's advice to repay the bonus to Nancy.

Paying retrenchment benefits

A manufacturer of professional audio-visual equipment dismissed 15 employees without paying any retrenchment benefits to them.

Some of the employees lodged their cases with TADM for wrongful dismissal and non-payment of such benefits.

Tafep urged the company to offer a fair retrenchment package to the affected employees. Although the payment of retrenchment benefits is not mandatory under the law, a company should make such payments based on the prevailing norms of between two weeks and one month for each year of service, depending on its financial position, said TAL.

The company said that its business had been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with orders dropping by more than 65 per cent from the previous year.

It eventually agreed to pay retrenchment benefits to eligible employees based on 0.3 months of salary per year of service, with no cap on the number of years of service.