With the recent launch of two new dispute management offices, workers in Singapore now have access to a “cheaper, better, faster way” to resolve their employment disputes instead of taking it to the civil court, according to Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say. It is estimated that the two departments will represent 90% of Singapore’s 3.67 million workers.

Prior to this, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) was the only channel for workers covered under the Employment Act to voice salary disputes. Professional, managers and executives (PMEs) earning over S$4,500 a month had to make their complaints at the civil courts.

The first office, the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM), will attempt to mediate salary-related claims for any income level, failing which, the claims will then be heard by the equally new Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT).

Those previously not covered under Employment Act are eligible for assistance now

The ECT, established under the Employment Claims Act, is open even to  PMEs earning above S$4,500 per month and they can file claims relating to owed wages, overtime pay, salary in lieu of notice, employment assistance payments and maternity benefits.

However, the ECT will not hear “complicated employment claims”. Claim amounts are also capped at S$20,000, or S$30,000 if the case has undergone medication provided by the labour unions.

“Mediation will play a critical role in the employment dispute resolution process to encourage the parties to resolve the matter amicably,” the State Courts said in a press release.

TADM, together with the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), will also with immediate effect fall under a new company called Tripartite Alliance Limited.

Lim said the government hopes that with the two tripartites joining forces, resources can be pooled and employment disputes can be settled more effectively.