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Employer Refuses to Pay Me--What Can I Expect from MOM?

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WanWanWan
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Employer Refuses to Pay Me--What Can I Expect from MOM?

Postby WanWanWan » Mon, 17 Nov 2014 4:11 pm

This has been a long saga, and unfortunately (and to my great stress), it's still going on.

I have been working full-time for a big, island-wide company since coming to Singapore. Because the company is so big, my direct boss was not the head of the company, but rather something more akin to an local manager, with maybe half a dozen people under her.

At first, things went well. The work was good, but far from ideal (the pay was abysmal, but enough). Still, I was satisfied with it and generally enjoyed working. Then I started having health issues, which I won't go into here. Basically, I started having to take days off work to recover from times when I would get worse, and was advised by my doctor to stop working for at least a few months to give myself a chance to recover. It's aggravated by heat. Just as well I'm in Singapore :roll:

I realised that even if I took a few months off, I'd still be in bad shape, and to save trouble in the long-term, thought it would be easiest for everyone if I just quit my job so they could find someone who was capable of working the full amount, instead of making them find a temporary replacement, and then come back and possibly get worse and repeat the whole thing over and over again. It was clear in my contract that a reduction of hours was not possible. I've since lined up a job that works around my health.

My contract specified I needed to give 2 weeks notice, but I gave a much longer period of time, to give them longer to find a replacement. In the end, they got 4 (I think) part-time people to replace me.

When finalising everything, I realised that I had not been paid for the last few months. I should have realised this earlier, but I was busy working while sick, so it slipped under my radar. This was my biggest mistake. I contacted my direct boss (by sms and email--she never answers her phone) about this as soon as I found out, explaining that there had been an oversight and so on. No reply. I contacted the paymaster, a separate person, who said that my salary was all ready to be given to me, but it was up to my direct boss to actually do the paying.

This carried on for 3 months. The few times my direct boss deigned to reply to my numerous clear emails, she either ignored the issue completely, or managed to miss the point and misunderstood the simple issue. I also contacted the MOM and gave them the details of my situation. They said that withholding my salary like this was illegal. Informing my direct boss of this yielded yet more radio silence. I'm convinced that she is either grossly incompetent or actively criminal.

I've been sick and not able to follow this up daily, unfortunately, so it's dragged on for this long. It's clear now that it is a waste of time to try to get my pay from this incompetent woman. So, I gave up on ever sorting it out with her. I directed my efforts into HR.

HR haven't answered emails about this (perhaps to save face, or they might be hoping to ignore away the issue?), and are hard to reach by phone. Last week I finally got through. I have a recording of the phone call. The head of HR directly stated that she refused to listen to the issue, but instead told me four separate times to sort it out with my direct boss, despite me stating that after 3 months, the boss had proven that trying to sort it out with her was a fruitless endeavour. She was about as unhelpful as one could be. I explained that all I wanted was to be paid, and would rather this ridiculously easily-fixed issue be sorted out without fuss, but if I was continued to be rebuffed then I'd be left with no other option but to go to the MOM, which is something I honestly want to avoid. She still insisted I not bother her with the problem, and to talk to my direct boss. Pointing out the illegality of the situation didn't bother her in the slightest. After much frustration, she eventually said she'd talk to the direct boss and call me back. I haven't heard back from her, of course, and don't expect to. Still, ever hopeful, I'll give her the full 7 days.

I'm worried now that other people in the company are being treated in a similar way and it's being allowed to continue. What at first seemed to be a small error now appears to be part of a much more serious problem with the company.

It looks like I'll have to go through the MOM to make these people actually follow the law. Does anyone have any advice or experience with doing so? The timeline of everything that's happened is quite clear, and I've already sent them a preliminary email, so they are aware of the situation, but need me to come in in person. I have a fair amount of documentation and incriminating data, including three admissions by my direct boss and the paymaster that my direct boss that was purposefully withholding my salary (all in writing--email or sms). The whole thing is quite cut-and-dry, I'd think. I can't fathom why they'd want to force me to go to the MOM, unless they know it's pointless, so I'm quite worried. I guess this started either due to my direct boss being annoyed at me quitting, or due to her just wanting my money, but I really don't know her reasons. I don't care, either, as long as she bloody well pays me and follows the law.

What can I expect? How long will this take? And, is it likely that they'll be able to do anything to prevent the company from doing this sort of thing to other people (e.g. by keeping a close eye on them or something)?

Thanks to anyone who is helpful. Sorry this was long. I'm still really angry about it.

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ecureilx
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Re: Employer Refuses to Pay Me--What Can I Expect from MOM?

Postby ecureilx » Tue, 18 Nov 2014 8:24 am

WanWanWan wrote:At first, things went well. The work was good, but far from ideal (the pay was abysmal, but enough). Still, I was satisfied with it and generally enjoyed working. Then I started having health issues, which I won't go into here. Basically, I started having to take days off work to recover from times when I would get worse, and was advised by my doctor to stop working for at least a few months to give myself a chance to recover. It's aggravated by heat. Just as well I'm in Singapore :roll:
>
When finalising everything, I realised that I had not been paid for the last few months. I should have realised this earlier, but I was busy working while sick, so it slipped under my radar. This was my biggest mistake.
>
I've been sick and not able to follow this up daily, unfortunately, so it's dragged on for this long. It's clear now that it is a waste of time to try to get my pay from this incompetent woman. So, I gave up on ever sorting it out with her. I directed my efforts into HR.



In a nutshell, I see no case, as your health hindered your work/performance, and seems you have no case

then again, with your intelligence, I am not sure what you are looking for, here ..

Do look up your contract, and see the exclusions

personally, I see no reason an employer has to pay you, other than out of compassion.

That you didn't know that you were not paid for few months is mind boggling

As for your demand they pay you, I wonder, is that your right or request ?? Go file a case with MOM and see how it goes ...

Not gonna ask what your immigration status in Singapore is !!!

WanWanWan wrote:I can't fathom why they'd want to force me to go to the MOM, unless they know it's pointless, so I'm quite worried. I guess this started either due to my direct boss being annoyed at me quitting, or due to her just wanting my money, but I really don't know her reasons. I don't care, either, as long as she bloody well pays me and follows the law.


The employer told you to go to MOM or you think so ?

Employers, except the most nasty ones, will not push you to MOM unless they know that they are following the law ..

PNGMK
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Re: Employer Refuses to Pay Me--What Can I Expect from MOM?

Postby PNGMK » Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:15 am

Sounds awful but not surprising. The local manager will not want to lose face over this. You may have to resort to a lawyers letter (provided of course the lawyer agrees that you're in the right).
I have gay, black, Asian friends and then JR8.

AngMoG
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Re: Employer Refuses to Pay Me--What Can I Expect from MOM?

Postby AngMoG » Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:26 am

Well, I hope you have proof of due payment (pay slips maybe?), and it should be easy to prove that you were not paid.

I am unsure how you cannot have noticed that you did not receive your salary. I am not short of money, but even then I check my bank account around payday to make sure the salary comes in. The moment it doesn't, I would already raise hell. And probably not stay very long, as non-payment is a clear breach of contract.

Then I am also not sure if something is missing in your story... for the months that you were not paid, did you work full-time? part-time? were on sick leave? The amount of sick leaves are usually quite limited in Singaporean companies, and anything in excess would be treated as no-pay leave automatically. A whole month of no-pay leave would mean you would not get paid for that month, obviously. From then on, a lot would depend on your actual contract terms, e.g. penalty for AWOL/no-pay leave.

If you did work most of the time during the months you were not paid for, and did not receive your salary, you have a case and should go to MoM. That is independent from how many days you actually worked - any work day is a paid work day, and your employer allowing you to work in his office would count as tacit agreement that you are still employed IMO. Bring as much proof as you can, including proof that you tried to recover your salary from your employer.

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ecureilx
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Re: Employer Refuses to Pay Me--What Can I Expect from MOM?

Postby ecureilx » Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:25 pm

AngMoG wrote:I am unsure how you cannot have noticed that you did not receive your salary. I am not short of money, but even then I check my bank account around payday to make sure the salary comes in. The moment it doesn't, I would already raise hell. And probably not stay very long, as non-payment is a clear breach of contract.


:D :D maybe, OP had too much money in his account a missing few thousand didn't matter ;)

AngMoG wrote:Then I am also not sure if something is missing in your story... for the months that you were not paid, did you work full-time? part-time? were on sick leave? The amount of sick leaves are usually quite limited in Singaporean companies, and anything in excess would be treated as no-pay leave automatically. A whole month of no-pay leave would mean you would not get paid for that month, obviously. From then on, a lot would depend on your actual contract terms, e.g. penalty for AWOL/no-pay leave.

If you did work most of the time during the months you were not paid for, and did not receive your salary, you have a case and should go to MoM. That is independent from how many days you actually worked - any work day is a paid work day, and your employer allowing you to work in his office would count as tacit agreement that you are still employed IMO. Bring as much proof as you can, including proof that you tried to recover your salary from your employer.


I suspect OP decided he can work from home, which doesn't go well with a lot of companies, unless they state it in black and white

Yep, work gets done, but many traditional bosses will want to see their flock, no flock = pay cut ..

WanWanWan
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Re: Employer Refuses to Pay Me--What Can I Expect from MOM?

Postby WanWanWan » Tue, 18 Nov 2014 1:09 pm

To clarify a few things:

The work required me to physically be in the office, clocking in and out with a unique ID number. It isn't ambiguous as to whether I was working or not. My job was such that working from home was impossible.

I only took individual days off here and there, and still worked most of the time. I never took a whole month off! And it's clear in my contract about sick days and so on, and I'm still well under the limit. Although my output was affected by being sick, it was still above what was spelled out in the contract. I have not broken the contract in any way. According to my contract, I should still be paid. And I have proof of due payment, so that's not an issue. As I said, the facts, which are many and numerous, are very cut-and-dry. I'm not interested in speculation about whether I did something wrong and they don't have to give me my salary--I already have confirmation from the MOM that they are legally bound to pay me.

A combination of stupidity and putting in a ridiculous amount of effort into work (again, I took few sick days and my performance was still acceptable by their measure) caused me to not check my bank account for a few months. I'll not be making that mistake ever again. Although based on how this is going, I somewhat doubt picking it up at the time would have done anything--maybe they'll have just ignored me and refused to pay me anyway.

As I said, I've already emailed it and other relevant info to the MOM as a preliminary to see if anything can be done. They have stated in writing that lawfully I should be paid, and that I should come in for an interview to start things rolling. I'm going to head in there in person, and just want some idea of the procedure from here, or what's likely to happen.

ecureilx wrote:
WanWanWan wrote:I can't fathom why they'd want to force me to go to the MOM, unless they know it's pointless, so I'm quite worried. I guess this started either due to my direct boss being annoyed at me quitting, or due to her just wanting my money, but I really don't know her reasons. I don't care, either, as long as she bloody well pays me and follows the law.


The employer told you to go to MOM or you think so ?

Employers, except the most nasty ones, will not push you to MOM unless they know that they are following the law ..


I stated in the phone call to HR and in several of the later emails that I very much preferred to sort this out directly with them, but if they refused, then they would leave me with no other option than to go through the MOM. They have blatantly refused, so although they haven't directly told me to go to the MOM, they are aware that they are making me do just that. Which seems odd, since I've forwarded, among other things, the email from the MOM stating that they are breaking the law. Why would they push me to go to the MOM when they already have confirmation from them that they're in the wrong here?

I don't know. I just want some idea of what to expect. Is this going to drag out for another 3 months? A year? Or will it be finally finished in a week? Does anyone know? What is likely to happen?

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Re: Employer Refuses to Pay Me--What Can I Expect from MOM?

Postby ecureilx » Tue, 18 Nov 2014 1:56 pm

WanWanWan wrote:I don't know. I just want some idea of what to expect. Is this going to drag out for another 3 months? A year? Or will it be finally finished in a week? Does anyone know? What is likely to happen?


You believe they are wrong, but are you sure they are not holding anything against you ? like .. misuse of company property .. for example ..

Or not properly doing the HR paperwork, where required ? Just suggesting .. or giving notice ?

I haven't done anything with MOM for years, and maybe you need to wait for somebody else to advice

Unless the company is teetering on bankruptcy, meeting, mediation and payouts are very fast !!!


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