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More support for work grievances

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The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is looking into providing a new avenue for workers to air their grievances not currently covered under the Employment Act.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in Parliament yesterday that this new body will help both Singaporeans and foreign workers at all levels.

“Sometimes, in non-statutory [disputes], we are not always able to step in. But, rather than resort to [going to] the civil courts, I think we are exploring whether something of that nature could be set up as an intermediate body to assist [the parties involved],” Tan said.

The new body will complement the Employment Act, and Tan said MOM is currently taking suggestions on how this can be achieved, My Paper reported.

Currently, grievances not covered under the Employment Act include disputes over employment benefits and standards of workers’ accommodation.

The ministry is also revising the guidebook for foreign workers, which has been issued since 2009, to provide more support in managing employees’ gripes.

The inception of this new body comes after the recent strike by SMRT bus drivers who were upset over pay and their standards of living. Tan said one lesson learned from the incident is the importance of having a structure to manage such work complaints.

He added MOM is also looking at ways to allow employees under a work visa to switch employers should there be “a genuine mismatch in expectations”.

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