Ever thought that as an HR professional you would need to appear in court to defend your company? What about without a lawyer?
This is now a reality for Singapore HR professionals, with the recent introduction of the new Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT) and Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) in April 2017. The ECT and TADM were set up to provide employers and employees with a cost effective way to resolve salary-related claims and employment disputes in Singapore.
The key implications of the ECT and TADM for Singapore HR professionals are:
- HR professionals and managers may be required to defend their company in court without the assistance of a lawyer.
- The ECT and TADM also now provide HR professionals with a cost effective way to be reimbursed for the costs incurred when an employee doesn’t work out their notice period.
This Wednesday 4th October, Links partnered with Stephenson Harwood (Singapore) Alliance for a breakfast seminar in Singapore to provide more insight into the ECT and TADM.
The morning was led by Terence Seah of the Dispute Resolution Team at Stephenson Harwood (Singapore) Alliance. On the day, we had the honour of hosting HR professionals from some of the leading companies, including Modec, Allen & Gledhill, Hach, BSH Group, Hawker Pacific, Ematic Solutions, Clifford Chance, Bruker, Dolce & Gabbana, Tangs, Gardens by the Bay, GS Engineering & Construction Group, Lush, Watsons, and many more. For anyone who may have missed our event, below is a recap of the key insights.
Overview and ECT FAQ
The Employment Claims Tribunal or ECT was set up to allow employers and employees a way to have their claims heard before a court without having to engage with lawyers. The ECT is aimed at being a more efficient way to resolve Singapore salary-related disputes, requiring a lower cost and taking less time.
Claims to the ECT must go through a two-step process. Before being heard at the ECT, you need to first register your claim at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) for mediation. Claims are only referred to the ECT if they remain unresolved after mediation at TADM.
Image Source: State Courts Singapore
TADM – Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management
The TADM was set up by the Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation. It is a compulsory step for claims to first go through the TADM before they can go before the ECT.
When best to file your claim?
A claim should be filed as soon as possible for mediation at the TADM. Below are the latest dates to submit a mediation request at TADM.
Image Source: State Courts Singapore
If the mediation process is successful, parties will enter into a settlement agreement, which should be registered at the District Court, holding the same effect as a District Court judgement.
On the other hand, you will obtain a Claim Referral Certificate from the TADM mediator if your claim cannot be settled through mediation. A claim to the ECT must be filed with the ECT within 4 weeks after the issue date of the Claim Referral Certificate.
ECT – Employment Claims Tribunal
The ECT hears three types of claims. For employees, they hear statutory salary-related claims and contractual salary-related claims. As for employers, they hear claims for salary in lieu of notice of termination. See below for a clearer representation.
Are there limits to ECT claims?
There is a limit to the claims at the ECT. Only claims not exceeding SGD$20,000 may be heard by the ECT. For employees who go through the Tripartite Mediation Framework or mediation assisted by their unions recognised under the Industrial Relations Act, the claim limit is SGD$30,000.
However, if your claim exceeds the applicable limit and you nonetheless wish for ECT to hear your claim, you may forego the excess amount.
How much does it cost to process a claim at the ECT?
Overall, the ECT is a much more cost efficient way for both employees and employers to have their claims heard. The general fees for mediation range from SGD$10 to SGD$20, and filing fees for claims before a tribunal range from SGD$30 to SGD$800. The time to process a claim using the ECT is also shorter than commencing a suit in the Courts.
Who can take claims to the ECT?
The ECT is primarily a Singaporean benefit, whereby it only applies to respondents located in Singapore. If the respondent is residing overseas (for individuals), or the respondent’s registered office or place of business is overseas (for non-individuals), the claim cannot be heard by the ECT.
If you would like to learn more about the ECT and defending yourself in Singapore, please visit Singapore’s State Courts Website or download the slides from the event.
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