Singapore is one unique first world economy which practises third world labour legislation and allows it’s workers to be bullied and ill-treated.
Unfair dismissal can be emotionally damaging especially for those who have put in many years at the company.
There are still no proper legislations helping companies to administer career coaching services to those executives who are seen as poor performers.
Many employers use performance as one easy way to dismiss their executives – often only paying them one month’s saalry or whatever that is spelled out in their employment contract in order to save on retrenchment benefits.
Many MNCs prefer to base their regional HQs in Singapore as it is a cheap labour resource centre with minimal labour protection for the workers.
Employers can hire and fire indiscriminately and moving forward, this will not augur well for our country especially when we want to entice many foreign talents to our shore.
We have featured one such unfair dismissal case here and hope that fronm now on, our authorities will look closely into providing adequate labour protection to our PMEs.
We are after all human beings with feelings and not machines…
Transitioning: Thanks for taking time Edmund to fill up this questionaire on unfair dismissal, can you first please state your educational qualifications, work experience, age and marital status?
Edmund: Age: 49
Marital Status: Married
Work Experience: 20 years of work experience in the IT field
Education: Masters degree in computer science
Transitioning: You have told me before that you were unfairly dismissed from your company, can you provide more details on this matter?
Edmund: I was the General Manager of company X. In early September 2012, I was told that company X will be “merged” and become a division in sister company Y on 1 October 2012. All employees in company X will be re-employed with company Y. By 1 October 2012, all my employees were given new employment contracts with the sister company Y, except me. When I asked my boss about it, he said that he will terminate my employment without cause.
Transitioning: Why do you think you are unfairly dismissed? Were there any clear evidences of unfair dismissal?
Edmund: In substance, the GM position was eliminated in the merged company Y as they did not hire a replacement for me.
However, company X exercised a clause in my employment contract to terminate me without cause by giving me salary-in-lieu of notice.
In so doing, company Y deprived me of redundancy benefits.
Transitioning: How do you think the situation can be better handled by your HR or boss?
Edmund: My boss should have been fair and treated this as redundancy rather than disguising it as termination without cause.
Transitioning: Do you think that our PMEs should be properly career counselled over time with clear achievable goals so that any eventual dismissal is better managed?
Edmund: If the PME has performance issues, he should be put on a performance improvement plan and counselled so that the PME is given an opportunity to improve.
Transitioning: Have you seek recourse from MOM or TAFEP (Fair Employment Act) and what are their advice for you? Is it effective?
Edmund: I approached MOM but they are unable to assist as I am not covered under the Employment Act. The MOM officer also does not want to give any advice on where I should go for to seek legal assistance. I was basically left on my own.
Also, the MOM e-Appointment system for consultation on employment matters does not allow you to make an appointment of you are not covered under the Employment Act.
Transitioning: How you also seek your own personal legal recourse? Is it effective?
Edmund: I have consulted two lawyers to seek legal advice on my rights. The advice given is fairly general in nature, somewhat helpful but nothing specific. The cost of consultation is $200 per hour. I spent 2 hours in consultation.
Transitioning: Do you think that we should set up an independent Ombudsman here so that any contractual dispute can be handled properly without prejudice?
Edmund: Yes, as it will provide a platform for someone like me to resolve employment contract issues.
Transitioning: Coming back to your unfair dismissal case, how has it affects you emotionally? Did you seek any counselling or coaching from a professional over this matter?
Edmund: I am coping fine regarding the unfair dismissal. At the present moment, I’m exploring other job opportunities.
Transitioning: Lastly, what advice will you provide to those who are unfairly dismissed?
Edmund: Make sure you keep records of all discussions and documents regarding the dismissal. Where feasible, you should have a third party to sit in the meeting where your performance and the dismissal is discussed.
Thanks and end of interview