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Employee dismissed due to work performance

Employee dismissed due to work performance

  • Lianhe Zaobao (4 November 2019): Nowhere to turn to for help after wrongfully dismissed

  1. We would like to clarify the facts of Ms Hong Meiqin’s case (“Nowhere to turn to for help after wrongfully dismissed”, 4 Nov).
  2. Ms Hong’s employer terminated her contract on 19 Sep 2018. She was paid a month’s salary in lieu of the one-month notice period.
  3. During mediation, the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) invited both parties to resolve the dispute amicably. The company offered an ex-gratia sum equivalent to one month’s salary and allowed her to resign instead, in order not to jeopardise her future job prospects. Ms Hong declined the offer and in turn sought compensation equivalent to eight months’ salary.
  4. As mediation was unsuccessful, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) carried out an inquiry. The company explained that Ms Hong was given an award in Jun 2018 for her good attendance in the first quarter of 2018.
  5. In early Sep 2018, she was asked to reposition her workstation, which obstructed more than half the office walkway and posed a safety hazard. She did not do so by the stipulated deadline, and was issued a warning for failing to turn up to discuss the matter with her manager. She responded by emailing her manager with accusations of unprofessionalism and pettiness. She also received a warning in 2017 for quarrelling with a customer.
  6. During the inquiry, the company did not admit to wrongfully dismissing her, but still made a second offer to reinstate her employment if she promised to change her behaviour and maintain a good working relationship with her colleagues. Ms Hong rejected this offer, and insisted that the company reinstate her without any conditions. As she chose to reject this second offer, MOM continued with the inquiry.
  7. In fairness to both parties, MOM and TADM examines all relevant facts presented by both employees and employers. The evidence showed clearly that there was no wrongful dismissal in this case.
  8. We would also like to highlight that since 1 April 2019, cases of wrongful dismissal that cannot be resolved at mediation have been referred to the Employment Claims Tribunal in the State Courts for adjudication. 

Then Yee Thoong
Divisional Director, Labour Relations and Workplaces Division

Kandhavel Periyasamy
General Manager

Letter: Nowhere to turn to for help after wrongfully dismissed, 4 November 2019

Translated Article:

I gathered from an advertisement that employees who are unreasonably treated by their employers can go to the Ministry of Manpower to report the company’s unreasonable practice. However, the reality is not so.

On 19 Sep 2018, I was fired from my company based on unsatisfactory performance. However, the company had awarded the Best Employee award to me in June, just over two months before I was fired.

The day after being fired, I went to seek help from the Ministry of Manpower, hoping that the Ministry could help me to seek justice. I gave all the information to a staff at the Ministry of Manpower.

I later received an email from my employer, telling me that I could return to work at the company but that I had to return the one month of compensation fee. Obviously, the company admitted that they were wrong in firing me.

I did not return to work, but requested for the Ministry of Manpower to help me negotiate with the company for a fair employment contract.

However, the Ministry of Manpower said that the company did not admit to wrongful dismissal, and said that if they negotiated with the company on my behalf, it would be impossible to reach a settlement. Through sending emails back and forth, it took nearly one year to reach a conclusion with no productive results. I later wrote to the Ministry of Manpower officials and waited for another two months. This time, I received a reply saying that my appeal has been rejected.

I wonder how many employees who were treated unfairly by their employers have been dismissed by the Ministry of Manpower in this manner. The Ministry does not seem to be interested in providing help. Many friends had previously told me that the Ministry of Manpower protects employers and not employees, but I had thought that as long as I had evidence, the Ministry would handle it fairly. Yet, this experience has left me disheartened.