How to Make a Claim for Unpaid Wages in Singapore
Being paid for our hard work is a right that we all have. However, there are instances where employers fail to pay their employees, pay them less than what they are owed or pay them later than they are supposed to.
If you are experiencing this issue, know that there are ways to make a claim for unpaid wages in Singapore.
In this blog post, we will discuss the steps you should take to ensure that your claim for unpaid wages is successful.
Keep track of your working hours and wages
Before filing a claim for unpaid wages in Singapore, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the amount you are owed. Keep a record of the hours you have worked, your wages you are meant to be paid, the wages you were actually paid and any payslips, particularly if you are paid by the hour or paid on a casual basis.
Some employers may dispute the amount owed, so having a well-documented record with relevant and objective proof can help you in your claim.
Attempt to resolve the issue with your employer
If you have not been paid or have been underpaid, approach your employer and try to resolve the issue informally with them. Provide them with your records of working hours and wages and state your case.
Sometimes, employers may have made an honest mistake or may have been experiencing financial difficulties. If you are comfortable with it, you can work out a plan with them to get paid back gradually.
Once you have come to an agreement with your employer on how your unpaid wages are to be repaid, put the terms of the agreement down in writing. This will ensure that your rights are protected, should your employer subsequently rescind on their agreement.
Submit a formal complaint to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
If you are unable to resolve the issue with your employer and a considerable amount of time has passed, the next step would be to lodge a formal complaint with MOM.
You will need to provide them with your employment contract and payslip records. MOM will investigate the matter, and they may try to mediate the case to resolve the issue.
Attend mediation / file a claim at the Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT)
If MOM cannot resolve the case with your employer, you will be referred to attend a mediation session with your employer at the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM).
The mediator will attempt to help you and your employer reach an agreement. If no agreement is reached, you can file a claim to the Employment Claims Tribunal (ECT). Your claim and supporting documents will be filed on the Community Justice and Tribunals System (CJTS).
Lawyers are not allowed to represent any party at the ECT, whether during a hearing or a case management conference (CMC). You must present your own case unless you have been given approval by the ECT to be represented by another person.
However, it is advisable to seek independent legal advice from a Community Justice Centre or from a lawyer before you make any claims to the ECT or attend any hearings before the ECT to understand what are your rights and what may be required of you.
Attend the hearing at ECT
If your claim is accepted, you will be notified of any upcoming CMC or hearing dates. Attendance of both parties is compulsory at the CMC or hearing at the ECT. If either party is absent without any reasonable excuse, the registrar or the ECT magistrate may continue with the proceedings and issue a default order against the absent party.
If you are unable to attend the CMC or hearing date, please apply via the CJTS for another date and provide your reasons.
You will need to bring your personal identification documents and an original copy of all documents that have been uploaded on CJTS. You should bring all necessary documents and evidence to the hearing to support your case.
At the hearing, the ECT will take into account all circumstances before making an order. Specifically, they will consider whether the claim is made out, whether any party failed to attend any mediation without reasonable excuses and whether any party failed to attend any ECT proceedings without reasonable excuse.
If ECT finds in your favour, the employer will be ordered to pay you the amount owed, along with any interest and costs involved.
How GJC Law can help
Our lawyers can help you understand your legal rights as an employee and your options for making a claim for unpaid wages.
If you decide to pursue a claim for unpaid wages, we can represent you in negotiations with your employer. This can include negotiating a settlement out of court, which can be a faster and less expensive option than going to court.
Alternatively, if you decide to make a claim at the ECT, we can draft any documents on your behalf and advise you how to conduct yourself during any ECT proceedings.
Unpaid wages can be a stressful and frustrating issue to deal with. By keeping track of working hours and wages, attempting to resolve the issue informally, and filing a formal complaint with MOM, employees can work towards receiving the pay they are rightfully owed.
However, it is advisable to seek legal assistance before making a claim and attending a hearing at ECT. Remember, being paid for your work is a fundamental right, and there are legal channels in Singapore to ensure that your employer upholds their obligations.