Parliamentary Question, 5 August 2019
Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Manpower with regard to cases registered for mediation by the Tripartite Alliance Dispute Management in each of the last three years that were then subsequently withdrawn due to payment, part-payment or resolution through a formal settlement agreement (a) what were the respective average and median proportions of the settlement amounts compared to the amounts initially claimed; and (b) how many claimants were not paid the settlement amount in full within four weeks of registering the settlement agreement in the District Court.
Mrs Josephine Teo: The Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) has concluded about 15,000 salary claims lodged between April 2017 when it was established and December 2018. Two-thirds of the claims were either resolved through payment from employers in a private settlement or by way of a settlement agreement which when registered with the District Court can be enforceable. Of the remaining one-third, about half were referred to the Employment Claims Tribunals for adjudication as the disputes could not be resolved through mediation, and the other half were withdrawn by the claimants because they found that their claims were weak or invalid.
Initial claims are not always accurate or valid. The ratio of settlement to initial claims is therefore not a meaningful indicator. During mediation, TADM mediators will work with the parties involved to verify the actual amount of salary arrears. Claimants may settle for less if the employer is in genuine financial difficulty. Nonetheless, vast majority of the settlements were close to or same as the valid amounts claimed.
Once a settlement agreement has been reached, TADM will actively monitor payment by calling the claimants within three working days of the scheduled payment date, which is arrived at by mutual agreement between the two parties. Sometimes, the claimant is not contactable or cannot remember when he was paid. More importantly, when a claimant reports to TADM that he did not receive any payment after the agreed payment date, TADM will immediately engage the employer concerned and remind the employer to pay up. The matter will also be reported to MOM for possible enforcement follow up.
93% of the claimants have reported that they received full payment based on the settlement amount. Another 4% reported partial payment, and the remaining 3% reported no payment. Enforcement action is taken against all employers who do not pay up, including suspension of their work pass privileges. The more egregious employers are prosecuted.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)
The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.
She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).
Follow Anthea Ong on her public page at www.facebook.com/antheaonglaytheng