The Labour Court is a quasi-judicial system, which is an alternative to the civil claims. The objective of the Labour Court is to provide labour justice system that is fair, fast and inexpensive for workers to lodge claims on wages or any other financial benefits owed to them. In line with the rationale of its establishment as the judicial mechanism to assist in workers’ welfare, the Labour Court has the following special characteristics:
- To try all claims regardless of amount.
- To adopt easy and informal proceeding practices and still comply to the judicial principles such as those practiced in Civil Courts. The practice of trying labour cases in accordance to judicial principles of the Civil Court has been acknowledged by decisions previously made by the High Court.
All labour cases must meet with a decision within one to three months, depending on the complexity of the issue and the legislative involved. This is to protect the welfare of the relevant parties and to keep the affected industries in harmony. To meet this objective, deferment of trial dates by any party is not encouraged. Simple claims or cases can be arbitrated through phone conversations between the officer in charge and the affected parties in order to lessen the waiting time.
The operation procedures of labour cases are much simpler and easier compared to those in the Civil Courts. In the Labour Court, the need to complete various forms is eliminated so as to cater to those workers who are less educated or illiterate. If the complainant is not able to fill in the full name and address of the defendant, an officer will assist in completing the required information and to calculate the claim amount using the Labour Market Database application. Explanation on the calculation will be given to the complainant to ensure that he or she understands his or her claim against the defendant.
The complainant does not have to pay any fees when filing a labour case. Case adjournments/deferments are not encouraged as this may incur travelling costs to and fro the Labour Court on affected parties and to reduce the need to apply for unpaid leave by the workers. The officer will also assist in settling the claims as soon as possible so that the affected parties do not have to appoint lawyers.