Singapore

New guidelines for wrongful dismissal claims

Employees can access a one-stop platform to make wrongful dismissal and salary-related claims

He was a workman earning less than $4,500.

As he had to take care of his infant, he declined his employer's request to work overtime.

His employer then dismissed him without notice, saying he could not afford to have employees who prioritised care-giving duties over work.

Such a move would be deemed wrongful dismissal and the employee can file a mediation request with the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).

Yesterday, guidelines on what constitutes wrongful dismissal were released, along with the announcement that there would be a new dispute resolution platform for wrongful dismissal claims.

The Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal contain examples of wrongful dismissals and those that are not.

These guidelines, jointly developed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation, provide a clear reference to TADM and the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) as well as to employers and employees.

Mr Mayank Parekh, CEO of the Institute for Human Resource Professionals, told The New Paper: "These guidelines, by giving illustrations of cases of wrongful dismissal, help to provide greater clarity and transparency and are much welcomed by human resource practitioners."

Examples of wrongful dismissal include those due to discrimination, deprivation of benefits such as maternity benefits, the desire to punish an employee for exercising employment rights such as declining requests to work overtime, and reasons given by employers that are false.

Dismissals that are not wrongful include those on grounds of misconduct, poor performance and redundancy.

Ms Cham Hui Fong, assistant secretary-general of NTUC, said: "The Tripartite Guidelines provide clarity to employees on the grounds on which they can appeal if they feel that they have been wrongfully dismissed.

"Such transparency will help raise employees' understanding of their employment rights and ensure that they are adequately protected."

The enhanced employment dispute resolution framework now allows employees access to a one-stop service for both wrongful dismissal claims and salary-related claims.

From April 1, all employees (excluding seafarers, domestic workers and public servants) who wish to file a claim against their employers for wrongful dismissal will first undergo mediation at TADM. Should the dispute remain unresolved, the claim can be filed at ECT.

Before April 1, employees with both salary-related and wrongful dismissal claims had to file their claims separately, with the former being mediated at TADM and adjudicated by the ECT and the latter dealt with by the MOM.

Mr Ian Lim, partner and head of employment at TSMP Law Corporation, told TNP: "Singapore's employment laws are continuing through the Tripartite Guidelines to become more nuanced and sophisticated, as befitting a mature, developed economy.

"This is both necessary and important, and done right, will only be a good thing."

Employment