Written Answer by Minister for Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo on Wrongful Dismissal Involving Pregnant Employees
NOTICE PAPER NO. 353 OF 2021 FOR THE SITTING ON 10 MAY
QUESTION NO. 943 FOR WRITTEN ANSWER TO QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER NOT ANSWERED BY END OF QUESTION TIME
MP: Ms Carrie Tan
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) since its establishment in April 2017, how many wrongful dismissal cases administered by the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) involved employees who were pregnant at the time of dismissal; (b) what resources are provided to TADM in considering gender discrimination cases; and (c) how are gender discrimination cases currently being flagged to TADM and how are they evaluated.
- Under the law, female employees are protected against wrongful dismissals at any stage of pregnancy. Since April 2019, when TADM started mediating dismissal disputes, 110 wrongful dismissal claims involving pregnant employees have been lodged.
- In managing wrongful dismissal claims, TADM looks into the circumstances of the dismissal by gathering facts from the employee and the employer. TADM then assesses whether the dismissal claim is substantiated and steers the parties towards a fair settlement. In the majority of cases, employers had sufficient cause to dismiss the pregnant employees due to work performance issues but did not communicate the reasons properly to the employees. For such cases, TADM would explain to employees the lack of basis for their claims but still help them to get closure, such as getting the employer to provide some ex-gratia payments on compassionate grounds. Overall, about 80% of the concluded cases were resolved at TADM. The remaining cases were referred to the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) for adjudication – of which 30% resulted in money orders in favour of the employees.
- Unlike TADM which mediates disputes on wrongful dismissal, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) focuses on in-employment and pre-employment discrimination cases, such as gender discrimination against jobseekers and employees. For cases where there is evidence of discrimination, TAFEP will refer them to MOM for further investigation. In such investigations, MOM will require employers to account for their actions which include not hiring pregnant jobseekers, and provide evidence to prove that they did not have any discriminatory employment practices. If discrimination were established, depending on the severity of the issues, MOM would take appropriate enforcement actions against the errant employers, from requiring them to rectify the lapses in their HR processes to suspending work pass privileges in the more serious cases.
- MOM takes a serious view of workplace discrimination, including discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status and family responsibilities. Individuals who feel that they have met with employment discrimination are advised to file a complaint with TAFEP if the alleged discrimination occurred before or during employment, and with TADM if it concerned dismissal.