The current Labour Court under the Employment Act only covers workers who earn less than $4,500 per month regarding their salary disputes. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is considering establishing the ECT to expand this scope to include all employees (except public servants, domestic workers and seafarers for the time being). The detailed proposal can be found here. The public has until 23 March 2016 to give feedback.
The highlights of the proposal are:
- the ECT will be a tribunal under the State Court, like the Small Claims Tribunal;
- the disputes covered are employment salary disputes including those involving rights under the Employment Act and also those rights not under the Act but under their employment contracts. This is significant because presently, the latter are subject to civil court proceedings, which can be expensive to pursue. However, there will be a jurisdictional limit;
- disputes concerning issues related to other workplace grievances (e.g. unfair dismissal and
discrimination) will not be covered.
- mediation will be made mandatory for disputes at the start of the process;
- the jurisdictional limit will be claims of up to $20,000. Higher claims cap of $30,000 for claimants who go through the Tripartite Mediation Framework or MOM conciliation prescribed under the Industrial Relations Act);
- time limit for lodging claim in the ECT is 1 year from date on which claim arises.