Singapore’s approach to employment dispute

Disagreements at work are a common occurrence. Everyday, there are conflicts, terminations, resignations and disputes that cannot be resolved. Sometimes it is not possible for affected parties to take on on another directly. What then?

Lawyers are the worst ways of resolving a workplace conflict. Even if you think that you have a strong case, legal arguments may work against your favour. In the courts, someone necessarily needs to lose – you just don’t want to be that person. It is also a lengthy process – even if a case is decided, the losing party may extend it with an appeal to a higher court…where things start to get more and more expensive.

Unless a clear damage is done and there is conclusive evidence that the damage flows from one party, you will want to steer clear of lawyers.

There is another more civil and effective way to manage workplace disputes. Go to TADM.

TADM is the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management. Jointly setup by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), the organisation offers both mediation and advisory to employees.

The dispute body saw 453 cases in 2016. This has triple to 1352 in 2017.

What can you seek help with?

High on the list of issues that TADM has to deal with include matters relating to salaries, termination/dismissals and questions on labour law, for example work performance, disciplinary issues, restraint of trade, employee transfer and health & safety issues.

Many cases are resolved by [email protected] 8% of these have moved on to mediation. Of the cases that have moved to mediation, about 40% have led to settlement, with more than half concluding in settlement. Others have either proceeded to an Employment Claims Tribunal or withdrawn.

Settlements referred to tangible settlements: those with salary or employment contract breaches were paid compensation and cases involving retrenchments saw payment of retrenchment benefits.

Many a times, non-problems become serious difficulties. The nature of employment makes it so – you’re dealing with pride, principals and profit. It isn’t easy for just two parties to resolve these things amicably. Sometimes, a neutral third-party can help facilitate a win-win outcome.


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