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Sacked employee who appealed given fair hearing

  • The Straits Times Online (7 Jul 2018): Poor coordination between agencies in employment dispute 

Sacked employee who appealed given fair hearing
- The Straits Times Online, 4 Aug 2018

  1. We wish to explain the handling of Mr Lim Chia Yeo's dismissal appeal (Poor coordination between agencies in employment dispute; July 7).
  2. Mr Lim had been employed for 18 months when he was terminated on Feb 2.
  3. As in his contract, his employer provided one month's salary in lieu of notice and a pro-rated annual wage supplement.
  4. Though not obliged to, his employer allowed him to encash his unconsumed leave and gave him an ex gratia payment of two months' salary.
  5. Mr Lim accepted payment but filed an unfair dismissal appeal with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Feb 14 and mediation began on March 2.
  6. Mr Lim stated that the termination was to deprive him of his bonus. His employer disputed this, and provided evidence of Mr Lim's unsatisfactory work performance.
  7. The Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) informed Mr Lim on March 5 that there was no clear evidence to substantiate his allegations of unfair dismissal.
  8. He then requested that his termination be converted to a resignation. His employer declined.
  9. When this was conveyed to him on March 13, he raised a fresh allegation that his supervisor had made discriminatory remarks against him.
  10. Notwithstanding TADM's assistance, Mr Lim informed TADM on March 21 that he wanted MOM to look into his termination.
  11. Meanwhile, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) looked into his allegation of discrimination and found it to be unsubstantiated.
  12. He raised new allegations and produced new evidence of discriminatory employment practices on April 12 and June 18.
  13. MOM considered these and informed him on June 29 that his appeal was dismissed.
  14. Cases can be concluded expeditiously if they are straightforward and evidence is forthcoming. Most are concluded within three months.
  15. Mr Lim surfaced new allegations and evidence when the dispute resolution process was well under way, thereby prolonging it to five months.
  16. About 350 employees seek MOM's help for wrongful dismissals annually. About half these cases are valid and have resulted in compensation to the employee after TADM/MOM intervention. The rest are usually withdrawn or unsubstantiated.
  17. Mr Lim's suggestion to lodge appeals online is something TADM is already developing and will be made available next year.

Then Yee Thoong
Divisional Director
Labour Relations and Workplaces Division
Ministry of Manpower

Roslyn Ten
General Manager
Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices

Felix Ong
General Manager
Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management

Poor coordination between agencies in employment dispute
- The Straits Times Online, 7 Jul 2018 

  1. Six months ago, my job at a reputable multinational corporation was terminated suddenly.
  2. My termination was just before Chinese New Year and when variable bonus payout, salary increment and performance appraisal was due.
  3. The company refused to give me a reason, despite my repeated attempts to seek an answer. My request to resign was also rejected.
  4. As this was an unfair dismissal, I made an appeal to the Ministry of Manpower within one month.
  5. Unfortunately, after mediation by the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and consideration from MOM for approximately five months, I was told that my appeal was unsuccessful.
  6. The TADM officer who corresponded with me was very pro-employer. He also promised to send me his contact details by a specific date but failed to do so.
  7. When I called from time to time to check on the status of my appeal, TADM would say my case was with the MOM, while MOM would tell me the case is with TADM. Both agencies claimed not to know what is happening to my appeal.
  8. When I approached the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep), I was given information that contradicted what TADM was doing.
  9. There was an obvious lack of coordination between the three agencies handling my dispute.
  10. I wonder how many employees underwent the same treatment by their employers and are unable to seek redress.
  11. I have two suggestions to improve the management of employment disputes.
  12. First, MOM should make it mandatory for employers to offer employees the option to resign in the case of a termination of employment contract by the employer.
  13. Second, there should be an online platform where employees can file their case online.
  14. This allows for a coordinated approach between the MOM, TADM and Tafep. Employees can get updates by logging into the online platform. This will also reduce the number of queries these government agencies have to attend to.