More than 80 per cent of employment claims were resolved at mediation and more than 90 per cent of employees fully recovered their salaries and payments in 2022.
Employers and employees in 2022 continued to resolve issues amicably, with low incidences of employment claims and appeals, according to the joint Employment Standards Report 2022 by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).
More than 80 per cent of employment claims were resolved at mediation, and the majority were concluded within two months at TADM.
More than 90 per cent of employees fully recovered their salaries and payments. The minority of employers who were unable to pay wages had financial difficulties.
MOM and TADM said: “The report also highlights the tripartite efforts to resolve employment disputes and improve the dispute resolution process through digitalisation.
“This represents the continued commitment of tripartite partners to build harmonious workplaces with fair and progressive employment practices.”
Incidence of employment claims and appeals saw a slight increase but remained low
The overall incidence of employment claims and appeals lodged with MOM and TADM increased to 1.97 per 1,000 employees in 2022 from 1.73 in 2021.
The 2022 figures are still lower than pre-COVID levels, which were 3.04 per 1,000 employees in 2019.
The increase was due to the rise in salary claims by both local and foreign employees, which comprised most of the employment claims. It was driven by a higher proportion of group claims from companies that experienced business failures or financial difficulties.
MOM and TADM noted that while the overall incidence of salary claims increased to 1.68 in 2022 from 1.43 per 1,000 employees in 2021, it was lower than the pre-COVID period at 2.68 in 2019.
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay said that the higher claims correspond with the increase in layoffs and terminations since the later half of 2022.
He added: "The efforts to train up HR professionals via IHRP (Institute for Human Resource Professionals) certifications and enhance their knowledge on compliance for fair and progressive employment practices as well as employee communications is important and must continue.
"Employers must continue to be responsible and fair to workers."
The majority of salary claims concluded at TADM within two months
In 2022, 90 per cent of salary claims were concluded at TADM within two months.
Similar to 2021, 86 per cent of salary claims were resolved at TADM, while the remaining 14 per cent were referred to the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) for adjudication.
Nine in 10 employees fully recovered their salaries with assistance from TADM and ECT
In 2022, TADM and ECT assisted 93 per cent of the employees to recover their salaries in full, similar to the 95 per cent in 2021.
Four per cent recovered their salaries partially through settlement payments from security bond insurers or main contractors or through financial assistance from the Short-Term Relief Fund or Migrant Workers’ Assistance Fund.
MOM also suspended the work pass privileges of employers who did not fully repay their employees.
Less than one per cent of the salary claims lodged involved wilful employers who did not make full payment despite having the means to do so.
The majority of wrongful dismissal claims concluded at TADM within two months
Similar to 2021, 84 per cent of wrongful dismissal claims were concluded at TADM within two months.
The overall incidence of wrongful dismissal claims in 2022 remained relatively constant at 0.26 per 1,000 employees compared to 0.27 in 2021.
Twenty-five per cent of dismissal claims lodged in 2022 were assessed to be substantiated.
Seventy per cent of these claims were resolved at TADM, and the remaining 30 per cent were referred to ECT for adjudication.
Of the 75 per cent of unsubstantiated claims, the majority involved disputes over work performance or had arisen due to miscommunication between the employers and employees.
These employers had fulfilled their contractual or statutory obligations of employment termination with notice.
Sixty-three per cent of these claims were resolved at TADM, with the remaining 37 per cent referred to ECT for adjudication.
Improving the dispute resolution process
In 2022, the Online Dispute Resolution portal was enhanced to process disputes involving multiple claims.
As a result, the number of claims processed on the portal increased to 1,000 in 2022 from 430 in 2021.
TADM also piloted the portal to resolve more cases involving migrant workers and provided the necessary resources to assist workers in resolving their disputes virtually.
Specifically, the portal enables employers and employees to resolve disputes amicably, contributing to more harmonious workplaces.
Beyond the management of employment claims and appeals, significant steps are taken to create more inclusive workplaces.
MOM and TADM said: “Although workplace fairness standards have improved over time, we will strengthen our legislative framework against workplace discrimination while preserving a harmonious workplace culture that focuses on mediation as the primary means to resolve disputes.
“The Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness is continuing to engage stakeholders in developing its recommendations to enact workplace fairness legislation and releasing them in due course.”
MOM, TADM and the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices said they remain committed to safeguarding employment standards through effective dispute resolution, educating employees and employers on their rights and obligations, and strong enforcement actions where necessary.
They added: “We will continue to work closely with tripartite partners (NTUC and the Singapore National Employers Federation) to build better workplaces with the greater adoption of inclusive and progressive workplace practices.”