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The Employment Claims Act (Act 21 of 2016) (the "Employment Claims Act") sets up the new Employment Claims Tribunals ("ECT"), which provide employees and employers with an expeditious and affordable avenue to resolve statutory and contractual salary-related disputes. The Employment Claims Act also aims to facilitate the resolution of salary-related employment disputes for more employees, including Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs), who earn more than S$4,500 per month and are currently beyond the coverage of the Employment Act, through the ECT.
The ECT came into operation on 1 April 2017.
1. What are ECT proceedings like?ECT proceedings are conducted in private. Media personnel and members of the public are not allowed to be present during the proceedings. However, the ECT may permit any individual that the ECT deems fit to observe the hearing of a claim.
Proceedings in the ECT are designed to be informal and judge-led. The ECT is not bound by the usual rules of evidence and may inform itself on any matter in such manner as it thinks fit.
At any point during proceedings, the ECT can order parties to attend mediation at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management ("TADM") or before any other approved mediator. A party who fails to comply with the Order may be liable for contempt of court, and may be liable to a fine of up to S$20,000 or an imprisonment term not exceeding 12 months, or both. The ECT may also refer the party to the Public Prosecutor to consider whether criminal charges should be brought against him or her.
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2. Apart from filing fees, are there any other charges I will need to pay?Depending on the complexity of your case, you may also incur other charges. Some of these common fees are:
For a full list of the fees involved, please refer to the First Schedule and Third Schedule to the Employment Claims Rules 2017. The First Schedule can be viewed here and the Third Schedule can be viewed here.
3. What Orders can the ECT make?
The ECT can make the following Orders:
The ECT may, at any stage of proceedings, refer the matter to mediation.
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4. What will the ECT consider in deciding the Order to be made?
Some considerations that the ECT will take into account include the following:
5. If I file a claim today, when would the case be fixed for a Case Management Conference (CMC)?The first CMC would be fixed within 3 – 4 weeks from the date of filing the claim.
6. Can I amend a claim after it has been submitted or do I need to file a new claim?You may amend a claim if the claim has not been served on the respondent. To do so, you should submit the amended claim form and documents to the Employment Claims Registry, and serve the amended claim and documents on the respondent.
If you have already served the claim on the respondent, amendments are not allowed unless you have obtained the consent of the respondent or the permission of the Tribunal or the Registrar.
7. What is the difference between mediation at TADM and CMC at ECT?Pre-ECT mediations at TADM are facilitated by TADM mediators, whereas a CMC at the ECT is conducted by an ECT officer called a deputy registrar or assistant registrar (the "Registrar") of the ECT. The purpose of the TADM mediation is to attempt to help parties resolve the dispute through the help of a mediator. The purpose of the CMC at the ECT is to identify the issue(s) in dispute for possible resolution, and to ensure that all documents are in order, and that the matter is ready for hearing before a Tribunal. The Registrar may also make Orders and give directions at a CMC on how a case should proceed.
8. If my case goes for trial, do I need to pay any hearing fees? If so, what are the hearing fees?The hearing fees at the ECT are as follows:
9. Can I request for the hearing to be postponed?If you wish to request to postpone the hearing, please email the Employment Claims Registry at [email protected], stating the reason for why you are requesting the hearing to be postponed. The ECT will consider the request and inform both parties of the outcome.
10. Where will the ECT hearings be held?All ECT hearings will be held in the State Courts building at 1 Havelock Square, Singapore 059724.
11. What if I do not speak or understand English? Is there any interpreter to assist me?If you need the services of a Court interpreter for the Chinese (including dialects), Malay and Tamil languages, you must inform the Employment Claims Registry when you are filing the claim, or before the CMC or other proceedings during which the interpreter is required.
For any other languages, you would need to engage an interpreter to be present at the CMC or other proceedings. If you require assistance, you may approach the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).
12. Can someone else represent me at the ECT? A party to proceedings in the ECT must present his or her own case. Lawyers are not allowed to represent any party in ECT proceedings.
A party to the proceedings may be represented by another person (who is not an advocate and solicitor holding a valid practising certificate in Singapore), only in the following situations:
13. How does an employee represent the company?The company will have to provide a Letter of Authorisation for the employee to represent the company in ECT proceedings. The company cannot be represented by any other paid agent. It also cannot be represented by an employee who is an advocate and solicitor holding a valid practising certificate in Singapore.
14. If the employee is represented by a union, does he/she need to be present at the ECT proceedings?
Employees should be present at ECT proceedings, even if they are
represented by a union, unless the Tribunal Magistrate or Registrar had directed otherwise.
15. I abandoned the excess claim amount to enable my case to be adjudicated at the ECT. However, the amount for one of my claims was reduced during adjudication. Can I request that the ECT add in the amount of the other claims which were abandoned earlier?No. ECT will only consider the claim amount indicated in your claim form. You will not be allowed to add in the amount of other claims that were earlier abandoned.
16. Can I recover the claims amount abandoned in other Courts or tribunals?No. There cannot be multiple proceedings in different Courts and tribunals over the abandoned claim amounts arising from the same dispute.
17. What do I do if there is an error in the ECT Order?You may make an application under section 22(9) of the Employment Claims Act to rectify an Order of a tribunal (e.g. for typographical errors etc.). The application must be made in the relevant Form (Form 77).
18. What do I do if I did not receive a copy of the Order after the hearing?You will be given a copy of the Tribunal Order at the end of the hearing. If you did not receive a copy of the Order after the hearing or if you wish to have another copy, please email the Employment Claims Registry at [email protected]. A fee will be charged for the second and subsequent copies of the Order.
19. What happens if the claim filed is frivolous or vexatious?The ECT will determine whether a claim is frivolous or vexatious based on the facts of each case. A claim is frivolous or vexatious if it is obviously unsustainable or an abuse of process. If the claim filed is determined to be frivolous or vexatious, the ECT may dismiss the claim and award costs to the respondent.
20. Where can I obtain legal advice for my claim?
As the State Courts must remain neutral and independent in adjudicating matters that are filed in the Courts, the State Courts staff are not in the position to provide advice for any matter that is or may come within our court system. If you require legal advice, you may find this list of organisations and their websites useful:
Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC)
Head Office: 60 Paya Lebar Road, #13-45, Paya Lebar Square (Lobby 2), Singapore 409051
Telephone: (+65) 6290 7633
Email: [email protected]
Address: 1 Havelock Square, Level 1 State Courts building, Singapore 059724
Telephone: (+65) 6557 4100
Email: [email protected]
The Law Society of Singapore's Pro Bono Services Office
Address: 50 Market Street, #10-04, Golden Shoe Car Park, Singapore 048940
Telephone: (+65) 6536 0650
(Office in State Courts is only for Criminal Legal Aid Scheme matters)
Address: 1 Supreme Court Lane, Level 5M, Singapore 178879
Telephone: (+65) 6332 4388
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