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Tripartite partners release guidelines on what constitutes wrongful dismissal

  1. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) have jointly developed a set of guidelines on what constitutes wrongful dismissal under the Employment Act (“Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal”).

Background

  1. During the Second Reading of the Employment (Amendment) Bill in November last year, Minister for Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo announced that the core provisions of the Employment Act, which include statutory protection against wrongful dismissal, would be extended to protect all employees. This will benefit an additional 430,000 managers and executives.
  2. The adjudication of wrongful dismissal claims would also be shifted from MOM to the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) from 1 April 2019, and the Tripartite Mediation Framework would be expanded to include wrongful dismissal claims.1 With the transfer of the adjudication function to ECT, MOM would publish a set of guidelines on what constitutes wrongful dismissal.

Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal

  1. The Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal contain illustrations of wrongful dismissal, such as for reasons of discrimination, deprivation of benefits, desire to punish an employee for exercising an employment right and for providing a false reason for dismissal. They also include examples of dismissals that are not wrongful, such as dismissals on grounds of poor performance, misconduct, and redundancy. Please click here for the Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal.
  2. By setting out what constitutes wrongful dismissal and what does not, the Guidelines provide a reference for mediators and adjudicators at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and the ECT respectively, as well as for employers and employees. Under the Employment Claims Act, when the ECT adjudicates a claim, it must take into account the principles and parameters in the Tripartite Guidelines.
  3. Mr Lee Pak Sing, Divisional Director, Workplace Policy and Strategy Division, MOM (李伯胜, 人力部工作场所政策及策略司司长), said, “Over the years, MOM has developed guiding principles in determining if a dismissal is wrongful or not, which also reflect the consensus reached between employers and unions. With the shift of the adjudication of wrongful dismissal claims to the ECT, the published Guidelines will ensure that these principles continue to be applied by TADM and ECT.”
  4. Ms Cham Hui Fong, Assistant Secretary-General, NTUC (詹惠风,全国职工总会助理秘书长), said, “The Tripartite Guidelines provide clarity to employees on the grounds on which they can appeal if they feel that they have been wrongfully dismissed. Such transparency will help raise employees’ understanding of their employment rights and ensure that they are adequately protected.” 
  5. Mr Koh Juan Kiat, Executive Director, SNEF (高元杰,全国雇主联合会执行理事长), said, “SNEF welcomes clarity on what amounts to wrongful dismissal as it will help prevent frivolous claims from employees, minimise workplace disputes as well as reduce unproductive and disruptive discourse. Employers and HR practitioners should be proactive and install progressive employment practices, taking into account the principles set out in the Guidelines and conduct their dismissal responsibly.”

FOOTNOTE

  1. From 1 April 2019, all employees covered under the Employment Act who wish to file a claim against their employers for wrongful dismissal will first undergo mediation at TADM. If the dispute remains unresolved after mediation, they can file the claim at the ECT. This change follows the amendments to the Employment Act and Employment Claims Act to enhance the employment dispute resolution framework.