Case Studies from the Employment Claims Tribunals
How the ECT Helps Resolve Employment Disputes
The cases from the Employment Claims Tribunals (ECT) illustrate the types of employment disputes and outcomes seen at the ECT. The cases have been generalised to ensure confidentiality of the claimants and respondents.
Case 1 - Dispute of Payment for Commission
Mr. Lee earns a basic salary of $4800. He will also be paid a commission if he hits a certain target. Based on records of his work and sales, Mr. Lee claimed that the payment of his commission was short in four months of the period in question. The company failed to pay Mr. Lee his full commission earned at his last working day.
The company claims that the employee handbook (HB) which is incorporated as part of the Terms and Conditions of the parties’ employment contract, states that “Staff needs to be in service to be eligible for allowance and/or commission payment. Therefore the commission due after the last day of the service will not be paid. In addition, any commission claim not submitted and approved prior to the notice of termination will not be paid.”
Mr. Lee also said that the company boss had also verbally told the entire sales team that amount of commission for any particular deal was going to be decided by the boss.
Mr. Lee argued that the commission owed was part of his salary and should be paid by the company.
Having heard all the evidence, the Tribunal Magistrate ruled and awarded Mr. Lee the $20,000 commission claimed by Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee has received the commission awarded to him from the company.
Case 2 - Dispute of Payment for Maternity Benefits
Madam Chan worked as a part-time sales executive in a company and was paid according to the number of hours she had worked in the month at a fixed hourly rate. However, prior to her maternity leave, the company promoted her to be the store supervisor with a monthly salary instead of an hourly rate.
Madam Chan claimed that the company should pay her salary during her maternity leave at the monthly rate which is higher than her previous hourly rate.
The company did not have any written employment contract and most of the official communications between parties occurred through a Chat group. Madam Chan said that the company removed her from the chat group while she was on maternity leave without notice, taking this as a termination of her service. She claimed that she was therefore entitled to salary in lieu of notice.
The company on the other hand stated that the increase in Madam Chan’s salary was conditional on her returning to work immediately after her maternity leave. As Madam Chan did not return to work after her maternity leave and did not seek approval for her leave, the company claimed that Madam Chan had breached the terms of her employment. The company countered that Madam Chan was liable to pay the salary in lieu of notice.
The Tribunal Magistrate considered all the documentary evidence produced and found that the company was liable for the salary of Madam Chan during her maternity leave but according to her hourly rate of pay of $9 per hour and not based on the monthly salary as claimed by the claimant. The Tribunal Magistrate also found that there was no sufficient notice period given with regards to Madam Chan’s termination. Eventually, Madam Chan was awarded a sum of about $8,700. The sum awarded was for the following:
(i) Non-payment of salary
Salary for work done before Madam Chan’s maternity leave
(ii) Non-payment of salary while on paid maternity leave and childcare leave
16 weeks of maternity leave based on the average salary and childcare leave
(iii) Salary in lieu of notice
One week of salary in lieu of notice for the period commencing after the end of the maternity leave
Case 3 – Dispute of Payment for Salary and Overtime Pay
Mr. Raju is a daily rated worker. He claimed that he was paid a lower daily rate than what he expected for the InPrinciple Approval (IPA) of his salary for both his monthly salary and overtime payment.
After working for two weeks, the company found that Mr. Raju’s performance was poor and they revised his salary downwards. The company claimed that Mr. Raju’s has signed a salary voucher where he agreed to the revised salary. Mr. Raju claimed that the salary voucher was forged. The police investigated the matter and concluded that the claims of forgery were not substantiated.
Both parties were seen at the Case Management Conference (CMC) and the parties managed to reach a settlement of $5,000.
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