In Singapore, companies have the prerogative to fire at will, but what if you think you were unfairly dismissed?
Are there avenues of redress you can refer to in the event you feel victimised and shouldn’t have lost your job?
Did you know that unfair dismissals, compensation and reinstatement are actually covered in the Employment Act?
What does the Employment Act say about unfair dismissals?
Under the Employment Act, an employee may be dismissed on the grounds of misconduct inconsistent with the fulfillment of the express or implied conditions of his service.
However, the employer should only do this after “due enquiry”.
Usually this will amount to the holding of an inquiry, where the employee is given a chance to present his case.
The person(s) hearing the inquiry should not have any bias or personal interest in the case.
What should dismissed employees do to appeal against unfair dismissals?
An employee who considers himself dismissed without just cause may appeal in writing to the Minister for Manpower to be reinstated in his employment.
If the employee is a union member, the union can file the appeal to the Minister on the member’s behalf, under the Industrial Relations Act.
The appeal must be submitted within one month from the date of dismissal.
The Ministry will inquire into the case and hear from both parties.
What outcomes may occur?
If the Minister is satisfied that the employee was dismissed without just cause, he may direct the employer to reinstate the employee and backpay wages for the period after the dismissal.
Alternatively, he may order the employer to pay an amount of wages as compensation, without reinstatement.
Who is eligible?
According to the Employment Act, you can appeal if:
- you’re earning not more than $4,500 a month
- For a manager or executive meeting the first criteria: if you are dismissed with the necessary notice or salary-in-lieu, you must have served your employer for at least 12 months before you can appeal.
If your employer has given notice and terminates you according to your contract, the onus is on you to show proof that the dismissal is unfair.
What should you prepare?
MOM states that you should include the following personal and employment details in your appeal:
- Subject title
- Contact or mobile number
- Personal email
- Job position
- Service period (start date to last day of service)
- Last drawn salary
Also include information about your case:
- The reasons your employer gave for the dismissal or termination.
- Why you think you have been unfairly dismissed or terminated (you can cite specific incidents to support your appeal).
- Whether your employer has given you notice of dismissal or termination.
- Relevant documents related to your appeal, such as employment contract, letter of termination or warning letters.
This article was contributed by a lawyer to highlight the extent of coverage of the Employment Act with respect to unfair dismissals.