Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Tuesday March 19th 2019

32-year-old chemist settled work dispute with employer at labour court

Hi Gilbert,

I am a 32-year-old engineer with a chemistry degree and 6 years experience in the chemical industry.

Recently, I left a stable job in an MNC to join a small start-up as a chemical engineer.

However the job scope was that of of a lab assistant, and I was made to do jobs usually assigned to lab assistants with ITE qualifications.

In the course of my work, a small component was damaged and I was asked to pay for the replacement, costing 1700 euros and terminated without notice.

I have researched the Employment Act, however some portions are unclear:

1) Am i covered under the act?

According to the act, as I hold a tiertiary certificate, I should not be covered, however, due to the fact that my job description does not cover any managerial or executive duties, and that i was little more that a Lab assistant, the officer I spoke to at MOM felt that I was eligible to be covered as a manual labourer.

2)  If I am covered under the act, what is the maximum liability I am culpable for?

As I understand under section 29 of the act, I should not be liable for more than 25% of my monthly drawn salary

3) As the company did not serve a notice of termination, nor did it pay the 1 month’s salary in lieu of notice as stated in my employment contract, or give a termination letter with the reasons for termination, am I able to pursue them for this based on common contract law? Would MOM be able to pursue this claim, or should I use a solicitor or the small claims tribunal?

I would appreciate your advice on the 3 points and thank you in advance

Moreover, my salary was meant to be S$3600 per month, but the company kept extending my probation period and kept my salary at S$3000.00.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further information.




Hi Gilbert,

With regard to our previous correspondence, I have just left the labour court.

The case was settled with the company writing off the outstanding amount owed as liability, with respect to me withdrawing the claim for non-payment of salary.

With regards to the unfair dismissal suit, MOM cannot proceed as I am not covered under that area of the Act. I am advised to seek representation in the civil courts, which would incur legal bills. I will probably not do so.

The asst commissioner for labour mediated the settlement to minimize court costs.

Though this was not my intended outcome, it was the one all parties could agree on. It also avoided a lengthy civil suit in which the legal fees would have cost more than the claim itself.

The settlement also allows me to start a new chapter and put this ugliness behind.

If not for my pursuing this case, I would have started a new job with a debt hanging over me, at the very least, I have cut all ties with the employer.

On another note, I have had two interviews in the past week, both with MNCs and one looks rather promising.

Please accept my thanks for all your support and assistance, I would be happy to correspond should you need further information.

Please feel free to share this on your website.


Editor’s note: The Employment Act only covers workers who earn a salary of $2500 and  below but there is a provision of assistance for those who earn up to $4500 on salary dispute matter  with their employers.

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