Singapore's Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo, took several questions in a recent Parliamentary sitting, one of which was by MP Sylvia Lim on the cases dealt with by Employment Claims Tribunal since its establishment in April 2017.

In response, Minister Teo clarified that about 1,600 employees have filed salary claims at the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) between April 2017 when it was established and December 2018.

Of these, two-thirds of the claims filed resulted in money orders issued to employers to settle the salary claims, and the remaining were mostly withdrawn or dismissed.

She explained further: "The ECT does not order employers to pay sums beyond the employees’ statutory or contractual entitlements. If an order has been made against the employer, it is usually due to two reasons: (a) the employer did not abide by the terms of the employment contract; or (b) the employment contract although observed, was contrary to the Employment Act."

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The ECT was established under the Employment Claims Act, with the objective of hearing all statutory salary-related claims from employees covered under the Employment Act, Retirement and Re-Employment Act, and Child Development Co-Savings Act. The types of statutory salary-related claims include unpaid salary, overtime pay, salary in lieu of notice, employment assistance payments, and maternity benefits.

Hearing more types of claims as compared to the Labour Court, the ECT hears contractual salary-related claims from employees; including PMEs who earn more than S$4,500 per month. Such claims include payment of allowances, bonuses, commissions, salary in lieu of notice and retrenchment benefits, provided that these are expressed in monetary terms in the contract.

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