Sacked supervisor unable to file complaint within 60 days due to MCO

A lawyer says the Industrial Court may not be able to hear a case brought to the attention of the Industrial Relations Department outside the 60-day deadline. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: An ex-supervisor of a security firm, who was sacked from employment, is in a predicament whether his complaint will be heard by the Selangor branch of the Industrial Relations Department.

The reason is that S Tanabalan filed his representation to the department on May 19, way outside the 60-day deadline, as required under Section 20 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1967.

His lawyer, R Kengadharan, said Tanabalan, 39, could not personally go to the department in Shah Alam to file his complaint by May 3 as the office was closed.

The nation was under lockdown due to the movement control order (MC0) from March 18 to April 29 and thereafter has been under the conditional MCO (until June 9) to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

“We went to the department on May 18 but Tanabalan’s representation was not accepted as it was outside the 60-day period. However, the department received the complaint after a protest the following day,” he told FMT.

The complaint must be heard and resolved at the department level first before the human resources minister makes a decision whether to refer the dismissal to the Industrial Court.

“We want the matter resolved as soon as possible as it involves the livelihood of a worker,” the lawyer said.

Tanabalan was sacked from employment on March 5 and he should have filed his complaint by May 3.

Kengadharan said a department officer said his client should have filed his complaint via email within that period.

“This is grossly unfair as there was no formal announcement by the human resources ministry or the department to ask those dismissed from work to do an electronic filing,” he said.

The lawyer said employees from the lower-income group may also not have computers and internet facilities to file their representations.

“I have written to the minister’s secretary and the director-general of the department to highlight this problem as there may be others in the same predicament as my client,” he said.

Meanwhile, industrial lawyer S Muhendaran said case law had stated that it was mandatory for dismissed employees to file their grievances within the period.

“The Industrial Court will not have the jurisdiction to hear the case even if the minister allows it to be referred to it.”

Muhendaran said an exception should be made under the present circumstances.

“The employee may have to go to the High Court for a judicial review to order the department to hear the complaint. All this will be costly and time consuming for the worker.”

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