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Launch of new tribunals for white-collar workers to file employment claims
THE Singapore State Courts will launch the new Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) on April 1, 2017, that will hear, among other things, contractual salary-related claims from white-collar workers who earn more than S$4,500 per month.
The tribunal is meant to tackle these disputes over claims mostly not exceeding S$20,000, through a quicker process, and at a lower cost.
"This will bridge a current gap for this group of persons who are not covered under the Employment Act, and whose only recourse prior to the establishment of the ECT would be through the Civil Courts," said the State Courts on Friday.
Such claims include payment of allowances, bonuses, commissions, and retrenchment benefits, provided that these are expressed in monetary terms in the contract.
The ECT will also hear all statutory salary-related claims from employees covered under the Employment Act, Retirement and Re-employment Act, and Child Development Co-Savings Act. Such claims include unpaid salary, overtime pay, and maternity benefits. In this respect, it will take over the function of what is commonly known as Labour Court at the Ministry of Manpower.
Similar to the Small Claims Tribunals, the ECT is meant to be a speedy, low-cost forum for parties to resolve their employment disputes. The ECT will have simplified procedures and will be judge-led. No lawyers will be involved.
But the ECT will not be a forum for complicated employment claims. The tribunals will only have jurisdiction to hear claims up to S$20,000 or up to S$30,000 if the dispute has undergone mediation assisted by the unions.
The ECT will only hear cases that have undergone mediation at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management. If the mediation is unsuccessful, parties will be given a claim referral certificate to file a claim at the ECT.
Presiding Judge of the State Courts, Justice See Kee Oon said: "The State Courts continuously seek to be responsive to the evolving needs of society, and we recognise that certain matters can benefit from a judge-led and less adversarial approach in a tribunal setting."