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Tripartite Employment Dispute Resolution Process for PMEs & Employers

26 January 2010

  1. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) plans to introduce a dispute resolution process in 2011 to help junior and mid-level Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) resolve common employment disputes with their employers. The proposed mechanism leverages on the strong tripartite partnership between MOM, the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

  2. The proposed process involves the use of mediation, and seeks to provide a speedy and low-cost avenue for PMEs and their employers to resolve their employment disputes. Currently, PMEs who have employment disputes with their employers would mostly have to resort to civil litigation to settle the dispute, which can be costly and protracted for both parties. As the PMET population grows , there is an increasing need to facilitate the resolution of such issues. This new dispute resolution process gives PMEs and their employers the opportunity to mediate at an early stage, with assistance from tripartite partners.

  3. The proposed mechanism can potentially benefit more than 500,000 or half of all PMEs in the workforce, as well as their employers. Through this tripartite partnership approach, we believe that many disputes can be resolved amicably.

  4. MOM will play a leading role in the mediation session, with support from our Tripartite Partners, SNEF and NTUC. If the PME is a union member earning up to $4,500 a month but is not eligible for collective bargaining nor limited representation in his company, he may tap on this mediation process which leverages on the experience and expertise of unions and employer federations in dealing with employment disputes. The types of disputes that can be addressed through mediation are – (a) salary arrears, (b) payment of retrenchment benefits, and (c) issues arising from individual employment contracts. If the dispute cannot be resolved through mediation, he may pursue his claims through the civil courts.  He may also pursue salary claims through an adjudication process by MOM.

  5. MOM targets to launch this new initiative for PMEs by 2011. The details are currently being worked out in consultation with the tripartite partners.

  6. "With a better educated and more skilled workforce, PMEs now make up half of the resident workforce. This proposed mechanism is timely.  It will serve as an additional avenue for PMEs and their employers to resolve their employment disputes quickly and amicably.  This in turn will bring about a more harmonious workplace environment that will benefit the businesses, workers and Singapore as a whole," said Minister for Manpower, Mr Gan Kim Yong.

  7. President SNEF, Mr Stephen Lee said, "Employers recognize that there is an increasing number of PMEs in the workforce and some of their employment problems may need to be addressed with third party assistance. This tripartite approach will enable disputes to be resolved quickly and cost-effectively for both parties. SNEF supports the government’s initiative to introduce a dispute resolution mechanism for PMEs that leverages on our cooperative tripartite relationship."

  8. NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say said, "The Labour Movement welcomes and supports this proposed mechanism. It offers PME employees and their employers a more amicable way of resolving some of the employment and salary issues with the help of the tripartite partners. This is a constructive and win-win development for both parties as we speed up the pace of upgrading and transformation of our economy. It is also a timely move as we gear up to ride the global upturn".