MOM speaks out about Employment Claims Tribunal

by Miklos Bolza26 Feb 2016
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has detailed the key features of the proposed Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT) and is asking members of the public, including HR and employers, to provide feedback.
 
The tribunal was initially announced in 2014 as a means of resolving salary-related claims for professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) earning more than $4,500 per month and who are not covered by the Employment Act (EA) as a result.
 
“We propose that the ECT be established as a Tribunal under the State Courts, similar to the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT). The ECT will take over the work of the current Labour Court in adjudicating salary-related claims,” MOM wrote in a statement.
 
Who will be covered?
 
At the ECT’s commencement, MOM proposes that it handles salary-related claims for all employees including PMEs and those in lower positions regardless of salary level.
 
However, certain types of workers not covered by the EA will not be able to file claims with the ECT. These include:
  • Public servants
  • Domestic workers
  • Seafarers
At a later date, the ECT may extend its adjudication services to hear claims from these groups once the operations have stabilised, the Ministry has said.
 
What claims will be heard?
 
MOM recommends that the ECT only hears salary-related claims from employees in a manner similar to the Labour Court. These include claims related to legislation such as the EA as well as those related to wages, salary-in-lieu of notice and other financial benefits found within employment contracts.
 
To allow the ECT to operate in a speedy manner, MOM suggests that it does not deal with issues related to other workplace issues such as unfair dismissal and discrimination. These claims will instead be handled by MOM if the employee is covered by the EA or through the civil courts if they are not.
 
How will claims be made?
 
Prior to approaching the ECT, parties must try to resolve their differences through mediation, MOM said. This mediation will be similar to other mechanisms such as the Community Dispute Resolution Tribunal and will be handled by MOM or MOM-approved mediators.
 
The Ministry also proposed a limit of $20,000 per claim for anything brought to the ECT. This is in line with the SCT. A higher claims cap of $30,000 will be offered to those who go through the Tripartite Mediation Framework or MOM conciliation under the Industrial Relations Act.
 
Claimants will also need to file for mediation within one year from the date the claim arises, the Ministry has suggested. In the case that the employment contract has concluded, the claim must be filed within six months of the date of the end of employment.
 
How can I give feedback?
 
MOM has invited the public to give feedback on these details through and open consultation held until 6pm, 23 March. Feedback can be given emailing mom_consultations@mom.gov.sg.
 
The Ministry has asked that those offering suggestions identify themselves and their organisation, point out the specific proposal being commented on, and explain any points with clear illustrations and examples.
 
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