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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Maternity-Related Disputes and Complaints

Notice Paper No. 354 of 2013 For The Sitting On 16 Sep 2013
Question No. 621 For Written Answer

MP: Ms Mary Liew

To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower (a) what is the number of maternity-related disputes and complaints that the Ministry has received in the last five years; (b) beyond payment of maternity benefits imposed by the Ministry during mediation, how many women have been reinstated to their jobs after intervention by the Ministry; and (c) whether the Ministry is planning further initiatives to protect the employment of pregnant women from exploitation by ignorant or errant employers.


  1. From 2008 to June 2013, MOM received a total of 617 maternity-related claims and appeals. A large majority of the maternity-related disputes were resolved through mediation and only a small handful of cases were referred to the Minister for a decision. The remaining cases were withdrawn by appellants after they have had the opportunity to assess the merits of their case.
  2. About half of the cases that go to the Minister for a decision were ruled in favour of the employee. To date, the Minister has not ordered reinstatement in any case. For such cases, compensation is a more practicable option for the employees as they would prefer not to continue employment with the same employer following their dismissal.
  3. The very large majority of disputes referred to the Ministry are not straightforward cases of unfair treatment. In these cases, dismissal was also related to alleged employees’ poor performance or misconduct. Notwithstanding this, our laws ensure that female employees are protected against unfair dismissal during their pregnancy or when they are on maternity leave. From 1 May 2013, the maternity protection period has been enhanced to cover the full period of pregnancy. Employers who retrench or dismiss their pregnant employees without sufficient cause at any stage of the pregnancy will be liable to pay for their full maternity benefits.