Unfair Dismissal in Singapore

This article will discuss the difference between unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal under Singapore law.

Unfair Dismissal in Singapore

The concept of unfair dismissal in Singapore is quite narrow and unlike unfair dismissal laws in other developed countries.

The unfair dismissal provision is found in Section 14(2) of the Employment Act which provides that "where an employee considers that he has been dismissed without just cause or excuse by his employer, he may, within one month of the dismissal, make representations in writing to the Minister to be reinstated in his former employment."

As you can see, most employees who have been unfairly dismissed would simply not have the desire or be in a position to write to the Minister to appeal against being unfairly dismissed.

Further, it should be noted that the Employment Act is generally only applicable to employees who earn less than S$4,500 a month ("EA Employees").

Accordingly, the concept of unfair dismissal will not apply to employees unless they are EA Employees. Such non-EA Employees would have to rely on the common law concept of wrongful dismissal.

Wrongful dismissal simply means being sacked in the following circumstances:-

  1. where an employee is summarily dismissed without just cause;
  2. the proper procedures set out in the employment agreement, employee handbooks or by statute are not follows;
  3. the formalities relating to notice have not been met; or
  4. where a contract provides for termination by notice or salary in lieu of notice, but such notice or salary in lieu of notice is not given.

In the event that non-EA Employees wish to sue their employers for wrongful termination, they will have to bring a civil claim in the State Courts of Singapore for damages which may include the notice period salary that would have been paid to them but for the wrongful dismissal.

Filed under: Employment Law
Benjamin Li Yong Le

About the Author - Benjamin Li Yong Le

Benjamin Li Yong Le (“Ben”), is an Advocate & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore. Ben is currently running his own boutique corporate and commercial law firm under the name and style of L’Avocat Law.

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