TL;DR – The new kid on the block for employment disputes is gonna kick ass!
While the rest of Singapore continue to lap up more Joseph Schooling news – “ooooh, he has a new tattoo” and “oh, it’s on his biceps!” to “wah his girlfriend so chio and smart” and “wait a minute… then why was he on Tinder messaging some other girl”, something pretty significant happened in Parliament yesterday. And no, we’re not talking about Schooling making an appearance at Parliament but that the new Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT) Bill was passed. Have no clue what we’re referring? Read on…
Labour MP Patrick Tay mooted the idea 4 years ago of a setting up an ECT with the Tripartite partners (unions, employers and big brother aka the gahmen) to look into mediating and resolving employment disputes. This was because if a worker wanted to bring an employer to task for unpaid or underpaid monies, they would have to work through the Small Claims Tribunal, go to the Labour Court or take on a civil suit – all of which can be disruptive, time-consuming processes which are often not worth the monies recovered. The new ECT, which will start hearings come April 2017, is hence a landmark development in the area of employment law and industrial relations practice in Singapore.
Too long? No time to read? Here are the quick points to note:
1) The ECT can help workers from all salary levels
Did you know that some parts of the existing Employment Act does not cover everyone? If you refer to Part IV of the Employment Act, you will see that it does not cover all managers or executives. So if you’re one and if you get into an employment dispute, then this may mean that you have to file claims with civil courts – a long and costly process. The new ECT will benefit all employees regardless of salary level or position in the company.
2) It covers A LOT of employment claims
More specifically, it covers a total of 18 types of contractual employment claims such as bonus payments, overtime payments and retrenchment benefits, as well as 43 statutory employment claims under various Acts.
3) But before anything, mediation first!
Before filing claims, parties must first go through mediation at a new Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management centre where the resolutions at the mediation sessions are legally binding and enforceable. Previous stats have shown that mediation has been successful in resolving 90% of the Labour Court claims.
4) Bonus! Cases which involve unions have a higher limit
The ECT will hear cases with claims of up to $20,000 from all workers and where there are cases mediated with union or tripartite involvement, the limit will be up to $30,000. I’d say this is a good reason amongst others to join a union if you aren’t already a member. #dontsaybojio
Although there are probably more kinks to work out along the way, the ECT is a great avenue for employment dispute resolution. We’ll definitely be watching for more updates on this… and of course, hoping we won’t ever have to use it.