Employment claims across Singapore went up in 2022 following an increase in salary claims reported by employees, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Data from MOM and the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) revealed that there were 1.97 employment claims and appeals lodged per 1,000 employees in 2022. This is higher than the 1.73 per 1,000 employees in 2021 but remains lower than the pre-pandemic data of 3.04 per 1,000 employees in 2019, according to the report. “The increase is observed for both local and foreign employees, partly due to more challenging economic conditions in 2022,” the report said.
MOM also attributed the increase to more local and foreign employees filing salary claims with the ministry and TADM. In 2022, salary claims went up to 1.68, slightly higher than the 1.43 per 1,000 employees the year before. “The increase was driven by a higher proportion of group claims from companies that experienced business failures or financial difficulties,” MOM said in a media release. According to the report, 86% of the salary claims were resolved at TADM, while 14% were raised to the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT).
Of all the salary claims lodged last year, 93% of employees fully recovered their salaries at TADM and ECT, four per cent partially recovered, and three per cent did not recover any salaries. “The total recovered sum to employees increased to $12 million in 2022, from $8.6 million in the previous year,” the report said. “The increase is consistent with the higher number of salary claims lodged in 2022.” Employers who were unable to fully repay their staff had their work pass privileges suspended, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the overall incidence of wrongful dismissal claims in 2022 remained “relatively constant” at 0.26 claims per 1,000 employees, only slightly lower than last year’s 0.27. About 25% of wrongful dismissal claims in 2022 were found to be “substantiated,” where 70% were resolved at TADM, while the rest were raised to the ECT for adjudication. For the remaining 75% that were assessed to be “unsubstantiated,” the report said they mainly involved disputes over work performance or miscommunication. “These employers had fulfilled their contractual or statutory obligations of employment termination with notice. Sixty-three per cent of these claims were resolved at TADM, with the remaining 37% referred to ECT for adjudication,” the report said.
The report also emphasised that many of the employment claims raised in 2022 were resolved within two months. Nine in 10 (90%) salary claims that were concluded at the TADM were resolved within two months, while 84% of wrongful dismissal claims at the TADM were also concluded within the same period. The Singapore government has been taking steps to improve its dispute resolution process, including launching an interim Online Dispute Resolution portal in March 2021. In 2022, 32% of employers and employees who used the portal were able to resolve their dispute amongst themselves, while 52% were able to conclude the dispute virtually with the assistance of a mediator.
The government has been putting emphasis on mediation when it comes to stamping out workplace conflicts, as the case in its upcoming Workplace Fairness Law, which will require employers to set up grievance-handling channels to facilitate internal dispute. “Beyond management of employment claims and appeals, we are making significant steps to create more inclusive workplaces,” MOM said. “Although workplace fairness standards have improved over time, we will strengthen our legislative framework against workplace discrimination, while aiming to preserve a harmonious workplace culture that focuses on mediation as the primary means to resolve disputes.”
Human Resources Director
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