Q: Who will hear and decide on a dispute filed with IAC?
A: The Court, comprising the President of IAC and a member each from the Employer Panel and Employee Panel selected by the employer and union respectively, will hear and determine disputes relating to terms and conditions of employment, annual wage adjustments and bonus, transfer of employment and retrenchment benefits payable to an executive or breach of his contract of employment. The President, sitting alone, will hear and determine disputes relating to continuation, interpretation, setting aside or varying a CA or award, non-compliance with a CA or award or contravention of the IR Act, appeal against a Referee’s decision, and dismissal of an employee allegedly due to industrial action.
Q: Who can represent the parties at the Court hearing?
A: The union may be represented by an officer of the union or by an industrial relations officer selected by the union. The employer may be represented by an employee or by an officer of the union to which the employer belongs. The parties are not allowed representation by a practising lawyer or paid agent except where the matter relates to contempt of court.
Q: What factors does the Court take into account in making its decision?
A: The guiding principle adopted is that the Court’s decision should be fair, and should take into account not only the interests of the disputing parties but also the interests of the community as a whole and Singapore’s economic condition. The specific factors taken into account depend on the nature of the dispute. For a dispute relating to annual wage adjustments and bonus, the Court also takes into consideration the recommendations made by the Minister for Manpower based on the National Wage Council guidelines. Where the dispute relates to re-employment of an eligible employee under the Retirement and Re-employment Act, the Court takes note of the tripartite guidelines relating to re-employment issued by the Minister.
Q: Can the Court’s decision be appealed against?
A: No. The decision of the Court is final and conclusive. It cannot be challenged, appealed against, reviewed or called in question in any court.
Q: Are there any penalties for not complying with the Court’s decision?
A: The breach or non-observance of any term of a Court award is an offence. A union or employer who is found guilty of such a breach by a Magistrate’s Court is liable for a fine of up to $5,000. The Court has powers to order compliance with an award which is proved to have been broken or not observed. The Court has the same power as the High Court to punish as contempt of court a failure to comply with an order of the Court. The penalties include a fine of up to $4,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.