Refer dismissal cases straight to Industrial Court, says Bar

The Industrial Court can make an award or dismiss a worker’s claim within two years if the ministerial discretion to refer cases to the court is removed. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council has called on Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran to refer cases of sacked employees directly to the Industrial Court to ensure the speedy administration of justice.

Its Industrial and Employment Law Committee chairman, Anand Ponnudurai, said it currently took such cases between six and nine months to be referred to the Industrial Court as the discretion to do so lay with the minister.

“We want all cases to be referred to the court once industrial relations (IR) officers fail to settle the matter between the employer and employee,” he told FMT.

Kulasegaran, who is Ipoh Barat MP, was appointed as a minister following Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the May 9 general election.

Anand said at the moment, half of dismissal cases were solved within two months following the mediation process by IR officers.

“The matter will come to an end when the sacked employee is taken back to work or the employers settle the matter by paying compensation,” he said.

When IR officers are unable to break the deadlock between employee and employer, he added, the matter is referred to the minister who will then decide whether the case should go to the Industrial Court.

“Should the minister refuse, the workers have to go to the High Court to seek remedy,” he said, adding that this could prove costly and time-consuming.

Anand said the Industrial Court could make an award or dismiss the claim within two years if the ministerial discretion was removed.

He said the council had also proposed that a special Employment Court be set up to hear and expedite appeals from the Industrial Court.

“Employers or employees can then have two rounds of appeal before disputes are concluded.”

Anand expressed confidence that Kulasegaran would be receptive to reforms as he was a lawyer who had handled many labour and industrial laws.

“The council hopes to work closely with him as speedy disposal of cases is important as dismissal touches on the livelihood of workers,” he said.

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