MOM, TADM and TAFEP Share Findings from the 2019/2020 Employment Standards Report

The report highlights the tripartite efforts in helping employers and employees resolve employment disputes and improve employment practices.
By Ian Tan Hanhonn 19 Nov 2020

Between 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020, the overall incidence of salary claims to Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) remained low, with the majority of claimants managing to recover their salaries owed.

TADM also managed to resolve more than half of the total number of substantiated wrongful dismissal claims, with local employment dismissal claims declining in 2Q 2020.

MOM and TADM, and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) on 19 November 2020 in the 2019/2020 Employment Standards Report.

In a joint statement, TADM General Manager Kandhavel Periyasamy said while the COVID-19 pandemic has caused business difficulties to employers, they should still communicate any financial challenges to their employees in an upfront and sensitive manner.

“However, employers should not act unilaterally and use financial difficulties as an excuse not to pay salaries while expecting employees to continue working.

“Where disputes have occurred which employees and employers are unable to resolve, TADM stands ready to help resolve them fairly and amicably through our advisory and mediation services,” he said.

Number of Salary Claims Remain Low

Of the 15,717 cases of employment claims and appeals made to MOM and TADM during that period, 13,591 were salary claims.

By comparison, this meant that out of every 1,000 employees, there were 2.42 salary claims in 2018, 2.68 in 2019 and 2.46 (annualised) for the first half of 2020.

For local employees, there were 1.53 salary claims per 1,000 employees in 2019, up from 1.43 in 2018.

The report attributed the increase to more claims from the wholesale and retail trade industry, which was in line with 2019’s weak performance.

The first half of 2020 saw an annualised increase to 1.73 claims per 1,000 employees, and this was primarily attributed to the economic disruptions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Majority of Claimants Recover Full Salary

Meanwhile, 90 per cent of claimants managed to recover their salaries owed through TADM or the Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT) between 1 January 2019 and 30 June 2020. The total recovered sum was approximately $23 million.

Wrongful Dismissals

Since the Employment Act (EA) was amended on 1 April 2019 to cover all employees, more than 300 managers and executives who were previously not covered have lodged wrongful dismissal claims.

Between 1 April 2019 and 30 June 2020, TADM assessed and substantiated 277 wrongful dismissal claims. Of these substantiated wrongful dismissal claims, about 60 per cent were resolved at TADM, with the remaining 40 per cent referred to the ECT.

Another 842 claims were unsubstantiated, with 60 per cent resolved at TADM.

Dismissal Claims Increase for 2Q 2020

The number of dismissal claims lodged in 2Q 2020 was higher than in previous quarters – in line with the decline in local employment.

Despite the increase, the report stated that there was no evidence that more employers terminated their employees unfairly to deny them of retrenchment benefit.

The report also found that many of the dismissal claims were lodged by employees who were unhappy over the abrupt manner of termination, rather than the failure of their employers to fulfil their contractual obligations.