SINGAPORE: The majority of claims seen at the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) since it was launched in April last year have involved disputes over salary payments and allowances, the State Courts said in a media release on Tuesday (Apr 24).
Office workers in the central business district of Singapore Photo credit: AFP/Simin Wang
Non- or short payment of salaries and allowances made up 78 per cent of the claims seen, the release said. Other common ECT claims were for overtime pay (37 per cent) and salary in lieu of notice (27 per cent).
Launched on Apr 1 last year, the ECT was set up to hear statutory and contractual salary-related claims at the State Courts instead of the Labour Court in the Ministry of Manpower. It hears claims surrounding issues such as payment of allowances, bonuses, commissions, salary in lieu of notice and retrenchment benefits.
Since the launch, the State Courts has seen 1,190 employment claims filed at the ECT, as of Mar 31, 2018, the release said.
More than 80 per cent of ECT cases have been concluded, with three out of four claims resolved at the case management conference stage without having to go for a full hearing, it said.
The ECT also granted 732 money orders, while other cases were either dismissed or withdrawn.
"The efficient resolution of cases is possible as the ECT process, which is judge-led and designed with simplified procedures, allows for a speedy low-cost avenue to settle employment disputes," said the media release.
It added that the majority of statutory and contractual salary-related claims were concluded within six months from the date of filing.
The ECT also hears claims from employees outside the scope of the Employment Act, including professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) who earn more than S$4,500 per month.
Since its launch, PMEs have made up about 25 per cent of individuals who had filed claims, said the State Courts.
"They would previously have had to pursue their claims through the civil courts, which was not always the most cost-effective option for lower value claims," it said.
The tribunal has jurisdiction to hear claims up to S$20,000 or up to S$30,000 if the dispute has undergone mediation assisted by the unions.
ECT TO HEAR WRONGFUL DISMISSAL CLAIMS IN 2019
The adjudication of wrongful dismissal claims will be transferred to the ECT in 2019, added the media release.
Currently, these claims are heard by the Ministry of Manpower.
"As dismissal-related claims are usually coupled with salary issues, the affected employee has to go to two different parties to resolve their issues," said the media release.
This is part of an ongoing review by the ministry to "further streamline" the dispute resolution process for employees and employers.