Dispute management office recovers $13m in owed salaries, compensation for wrongful dismissal

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Dispute management office recovers $13m in owed salaries, compensation for wrongful dismissal

SINGAPORE – Employees who made claims for owed salaries or wrongful dismissal between April last year and March this year managed to recover $13 million in total from their employers.

About 93 per cent of the 4,556 employees who made claims fully recovered their salaries or received compensation from their employers. Their cases were resolved at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and the Employment Claims Tribunals.

This was revealed by the Tripartite Alliance Limited (TAL) on Monday (Oct 18) in its annual report for the year ended March 31.

Workers who want to make a wrongful dismissal claim must first undergo mediation with their employers at TADM. If this is unsuccessful, they will be referred to the Employment Claims Tribunals.

In the previous financial year, TADM recovered around $16 million in salaries owed to employees in Singapore, with about 91 per cent of employees who filed claims fully recovering their salaries.

The TAL was set up by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation in 2016.

It oversees TADM, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep), and the Workplace Safety and Health Council.

TAL said it has changed the way it engaged employers and employees amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

TADM conducted advisory and mediation services through e-platforms and over the phone, assisting some 18,000 employees, self-employed persons and employers.

MOM also enhanced the Short-Term Relief Fund in April last year. The fund is operated by TADM and provides financial help to lower-income local workers whose employers are unable to pay their salaries due to business failure.

Support was increased from up to one month’s salary, capped at $1,000 previously, to up to two months’ salary with a cap of $4,600.

The initiative now covers half of the workforce, up from 20 per cent before the enhancement.

Meanwhile, Tafep engaged employers who were carrying out retrenchments to help them do so in line with tripartite advisories. It also helped to resolve disputes relating to retrenchment benefits.

The unit managed twice the number of complaints, inquiries and feedback in the latest financial year, compared with the previous one.

More than 10,000 companies adopted at least one tripartite standard, benefiting over one million employees.

“In particular, more employers adopted the tripartite standard on flexible work arrangements following the announcement of the Enhanced Work-Life Grant to sustain the use of these arrangements during and beyond the pandemic,” said TAL.

The grant provides eligible companies with $2,000 for every local worker on flexi-work per year and $3,500 per local, full-time PMET (professional, manager, executive and technician) employee on job-sharing arrangements, subject to caps.

The Workplace Safety and Health Council also shifted its engagement efforts online by organising e-forums and webinars which included topics such as safe management measures for businesses.

Nearly 38,000 companies joined the BizSafe programme, which aims to help companies build workplace safety and health capabilities.

TAL chairman Stephen Lee said that like many organisations, TAL’s operations were also affected by the pandemic and it needed to quickly change the way it worked.

He said in the report: “This meant that we had to disrupt some established work processes and find new ways to reach out to our customers… With a motivated and passionate workforce, I am confident that TAL is well placed to overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic, no matter how it continues to evolve.”

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