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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. When does the TADM come into operation?
The Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management ("TADM") came into operation on 1 April 2017.
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2. Is mediation at TADM compulsory?
Yes. All parties are required to go through mediation conducted at TADM before their claims can be filed at the ECT.
3. What happens if one of the parties or all the parties do not turn up for mediation?
Mediation is compulsory.
If the respondent does not attend mediation, the TADM mediator may issue a claim referral certificate for the claimant to file the case with the ECT for adjudication. The ECT may order the party who fails to attend a mediation session without a reasonable excuse to pay costs to the other party.
If the claimant does not attend mediation, the claimant's claim may be struck off.
If both parties do not attend mediation, the case may be struck off.
4. Can I submit a mediation request to TADM for the same claim after the claim has been withdrawn?
Yes, but only if the claim was withdrawn before the date of the first mediation to be conducted at TADM pursuant to the earlier mediation request.
5. If the claim was not settled at mediation at TADM, when must I file the claim with the ECT?
If mediation at TADM was not successful, the TADM mediator will issue you a claim referral certificate to file a claim at the ECT. You must file your claim with the ECT within 4 weeks from the date of issuance of the claim referral certificate.
6. What is the claims limit for filing a claim at the ECT?
Generally, the claims limit is S$20,000. For employees who go through the Tripartite Mediation Framework or mediation assisted by their unions recognised under the Industrial Relations Act, the claims limit is S$30,000.
There is no minimum claim amount to file a claim at the ECT.
7. Why is there a limit on the claim amount?
Setting a limit on the claim amount helps to ensure that the dispute resolution process at the ECT remains expeditious and affordable. It also encourages parties to file their claims early, rather than allowing the claims to accumulate over time.
8. If my claim amount exceeds the claims limit of the ECT, what should I do?
You may abandon the excess claim amount to enable the ECT to hear the case. However, you may not split your claims and pursue multiple ECT proceedings if the only reason for doing so is to bring the amount claimed within the claim limit.
If you do not wish to abandon the excess amount, you should seek your own legal advice on your available courses of action.
9. I have salary-related claims from various months which total sum exceeds the claims limit. Can I submit separate mediation requests for each claim separately for each month?
You are not allowed to split your claims and pursue multiple ECT proceedings if the only reason for doing so is to bring the amount claimed within the claim limit.
10. I am below 18 years old. Can I file a claim in ECT?
If you are below 18 years old and have gone through TADM mediation for your claim, you can proceed to file a claim in the ECT if you are represented by a parent or guardian.
11. I am above 18 years old but below 21 years old. Can I file a claim at the ECT?
Yes. Under section 36 of the Civil Law Act (Cap. 43), you may bring a claim in the ECT, or defend, conduct or intervene in ECT proceedings.
12. What will happen to the Labour Court?
The ECT will take over the Labour Court's function on resolving salary disputes, but the Labour Court will continue to hear claims relating to the transfer of employment under section 18A of the Employment Act, claims for workmen's compensation, claims for non-salary related disputes and claims related to the recovery of salary not paid in legal tender, among other things.
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13. How is the ECT different from the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT)?
The SCT mainly hears disputes between consumers and suppliers, and does not cover salary-related cases. However, the SCT may hear cases involving independent contractors bound by contracts for services (e.g. self-employed persons, freelancers), which are excluded from the ECT.
14. 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
Address: 1 Havelock Square, Level 1 State Courts building, Singapore 059724
Telephone: (+65) 6557 4100
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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