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Written Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to PQ on Time Limits for Workplace Dispute Resolution

NOTICE PAPER NO. 148 OF 2020 FOR THE SITTING ON 5 JANUARY 2021

QUESTION NO. 389 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER TO QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER NOT ANSWERED BY END OF QUESTION TIME

MP: Ms Hany Soh

To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the time limit for filing a case under the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) framework by employees against their former employers can be lifted to provide more time for aggrieved employees to explore options for dispute resolution.

Answer:

  1. The time limits for a claim to be filed at the TADM depend on the type of employment dispute. For salary-related claims, claimants have up to one year to file a case from the date on which the claim arises; or if the relationship has ended, up to six months from the last day of work. For wrongful dismissal claims, claimants have up to one month from the last day of work. These limits are specified in the Employment Claims Act.

  2. The tripartite partners last reviewed the time limits in 2018 and noted that 99% of those seeking advisory services from TADM did so within the current time limits. The trend was largely similar in 2019 and 2020. Of the minority that had exceeded the time limits in 2019 and 2020, around half were either referred to other forms of legal assistance or the claimants decided not to pursue their claims; the remainder were followed up by TADM, such as helping them explore private settlement or arranging for a mediation session if both parties agreed to it.

  3. It is important to encourage employees to come forward early to lodge their claims, as it becomes more difficult to establish the facts with the passage of time. Early reporting is also critical to improve the chance of a full recovery and the best way to ensure that their colleagues are not similarly affected. TADM has also made it easier to file claims by allowing claimants to lodge a report online or by phone. Therefore, tripartite partners decided to retain the current time limits.

  4. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will continue to monitor if the time limits need to be revised.