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At a Parliamentary sitting on 12 February 2019, Nominated member of Parliament Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Manpower this question:
What was the value of unpaid salaries in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively, according to the orders made by the Employment Claims Tribunal on employers to pay owed salaries.
Mrs Josephine Teo, Manpower minister replied:
The amount of unpaid salaries ordered by the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) since its establishment on 1 April 2017 is shown in the table below. Taking into account that the 2017 figure is not based on the full year, the value of unpaid salaries ordered by the ECT in 2018 is not significantly different from that in 2017.
2017 (April to December): $2,424,000
2018 (twelve months): $3,076,000
There was a footnote to the numbers, saying “The total ordered amount is based on ECT orders issued in that year, rounded to the nearest thousand.”
In an earlier article, Employment Claims Tribunal handled 1,190 cases in first year of operations, we reported that the ECT dealt with 1,190 cases between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. Eighty percent of filed cases were concluded by 31 March 2018. That would mean about 952 cases.
Since Josephine Teo’s dollar figure refers to a different period (1 April 2017 to 31 December 2017), we can only make an estimate of the number of cases her dollar total refers to. We estimate that it would be around 714 cases, being 3/4 of the estimated 952 cases since the nine months that Teo refers to make 3/4 of the twelve months the State Courts’ figure is based on.
Dividing the total value of orders ($2,424,000) by 714 cases, we arrive at an average of $3,395 per court order. However, this figure should be treated with caution, not only because we were making an estimate above, but also because we do not know how many cases there were where the employee was unsuccessful in his or her claim. In such instances the ECT would not be issuing any order on the employer. If a significant number of claims fail, then the number of payment orders would be substantially less than 714, and consequently, the average amount per order would be higher than our estimate.
TWC2 is an organization that is dedicated to assisting low-wage migrant workers when they are in difficulty. We are motivated by a sense of fairness and humanity, though our caseload often exceeds our