The Minister of Human Resource had on 04 December 2020 in the exercise of the powers conferred by subsection 1(2) of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2020 appointed 01 January 2021 as the date of coming into force for the following relevant amendments.
- The Minister’s discretion to refer representation of unfair dismissals to the Industrial Court is now shifted to the Director-General of Industrial Relations (DGIR). This indicates that cases that are not resolved through conciliation at the Industrial Relation Department are now referred directly to the Industrial Court without filtering mechanism of the Minister.
- A new Section 33C was introduced to allow parties to appeal to the High Court within 14 days from the date of receipt of the award if they are dissatisfied with an award that has been made by the Industrial Court. Appeals will be dealt with in accordance with the Rules of Court 2012.
- A new subsection 29(ea) provide that the Industrial Court can continue to conduct its proceedings notwithstanding the death of the workman who made the representation under subsection 20(1).
- A new subsection 30(6B) empowered the Industrial Court to award back wages or compensation in lieu of reinstatement or both to the next-of-kin of the deceased workmen.
- A new subsection 52(3) empowered the Industrial Court to hear unfair dismissal claims brought by an employee of statutory bodies which will be prescribed by the Minister in the Gazette.
- A new subsection 30(1A) empowered the Industrial Court to impose interest at the rate of 8% commencing on the 31st day from the date of the making of the award.
- The qualification requirement of an Industrial Court Chairman has now been expanded via subsection 23A(2) whereby any qualified person within the Legal Professional Act 1976 with at least 15 years of experience in labour and industrial relations in the Ministry of Human Resources may be considered for appointment as an Industrial Court Chairman.
- A new section 44A confers the Minister additional powers to restrain strikes or lock-outs where they exceed a certain period of time or where they endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population.
- Section 20(6)(a)(iv) and Section 20(6)(b)(iv) allow for the appointment of any other person, except an advocate and solicitor, to represent the employer or workman during conciliation, subject to written approval by the DGIR.
The following is prepared by Mr Premjit Singh Managing Partner of Prem & Associates assisted by YX Ying.