Singapore

Workers may get mediation for unfair dismissals

Workers who are dismissed unfairly may soon get help compelling their employers to attend mediation sessions.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday that the Government, unions and employers are in talks to expand the scope of the Employment Claims Act to provide for mandatory mediation in non-salary-related disputes.

The aim is to reach an agreement by next year, he said.

Currently, the Act covers only salary-related disputes. Other disputes are dealt with through voluntary mediation.

Of particular concern is the issue of wrongful dismissals of professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), Mr Lim said after a seminar on good dispute management practices.

During the event, he also gave a six-month update on the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).

This office - which has two locations, in Jurong East and Bendemeer - was set up in April to provide advice and conduct mandatory and voluntary mediation for employment disputes. It has handled 4,600 salary dispute cases and helped resolve 3,100 cases as of last month.

Nine in 10 employees managed to recover their unpaid salaries in full, amounting to about $5 million. Among those who sought help were 300 PMEs who previously could recover unpaid salaries only through the civil courts.

Speaking to 400 company officials at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability in Jurong East, Mr Lim noted that TADM helps more categories of employees, since it has no salary cap for workers who seek help.

Before the inception of TADM, only workers covered under the Employment Act could take their salary claims to the Manpower Ministry.

Managers and executives earning a basic monthly salary of more than $4,500 had to go to the civil courts.

The office also facilitates the resolution of disputes not covered by employment laws, said Mr Lim. It has held voluntary mediation for about 100 such cases. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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WORKERSEmploymentLim Swee Say