How do most foreign-worker pay disputes end?

by HRD27 Feb 2017
Almost all cases of foreign-worker salary disputes are dealt with “speedily,” figures from the Ministry of Manpower showed. 

The Ministry recorded 4,500 salary-related claims in 2016. The vast majority (95%) of them were resolved through mediation. Nearly all (95%) mediation cases took no longer than month.

“All mediation is conducted only with the consent of both the employer and the worker. No worker is compelled to accept a mediated outcome that they feel is unsatisfactory,” it said in a statement.

Over the past three years, more than 700 foreign workers declined mediation to pursue their cases at the Labour Court, and more than 90% of these were concluded within three months. There was no Labour Court hearing in the past three years that took two years to resolve.

The remaining cases took longer than three months for various reasons, such as parties requesting more time to provide evidence, or because they involved breaches of other laws, such as the Penal Code.

The Ministry also shot down claims that foreign workers with ongoing claims were not allowed to work: “More than 2,200 foreign workers were allowed to change employer in the past three years.”

The 2014 Foreign Worker Survey of more than 3,000 randomly selected workers found that 99.4% of them were not owed salaries at that point. The poll was conducted by an independent survey firm.

Foreign workers occupy a third of the workforce.  Last November, the Government launched the Human Capital Partnership (HCP) Programme, a tripartite initiative with, unions, and employees seeking to instil progressive HR practices.

Among other things, the HCP and its partners aim promote a “stronger complementarity” between foreign and local employees, and skills transfer from the former to the latter. HCP wants to see foreign employees complement the local workforce rather than compete with it.

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