Salary Claims for Low-Wage Workers

Parliamentary Question: 6 March 2019

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Manpower in 2017 and 2018 respectively (a) how many salary claims were filed by (i) local employees and (ii) foreign workers at the Employment Claims Tribunal; (b) how many court orders were issued to errant employers to settle salary claims by (i) local employees and (ii) foreign workers respectively; and © how many orders remained unpaid one month after the orders were issued.

Minister of Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo: 85% of the claims filed under the Employment Claims Act (ECA) were resolved at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM). The remaining 15% of the claimants were referred to the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT), and of which 5% were withdrawn while 10% filed for adjudication. Two-thirds of the adjudicated claims resulted in money orders issued to employers to settle the salary claims; this proportion is similar for both local and foreign employees.

Of the ECT orders issued, about half of the claimants received full payment from their employers. Another 16% reported partial payment, while 36% reported no payment. Cases that resulted in partial or no payment usually involved employers in financial difficulty, or large accumulated salary arrears before the employee reported to TADM. In 12 cases (1% of ECT orders), the employer wilfully refused to pay despite having the means to do so. MOM is investigating and prosecuting these employers. 129 low income claimants who did not fully recover their salaries received additional financial assistance through the Short Term Relief Fund or Migrant Workers’ Assistance Fund.

We encourage workers to approach TADM immediately when they have salary arrears. This improves the chances of full recovery, and prevents more workers from encountering the same problem.


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, environment — and volunteerism in Parliament.

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.