MOM on church's court bid: Employment laws apply to all

MOM on church's court bid: Employment laws apply to all

The Government breached the rules of natural justice and acted unfairly, one of Singapore's mega-churches claimed on Wednesday as it sought a legal review to quash a decision involving a sacked employee.

The claim earned a response from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) - that employment laws must apply to all regardless of religion.

It added in a statement to The Straits Times: "Our laws are applied to safeguard employees' rights... and not to undermine religious beliefs nor to restrict the practices of religious organisations."

In documents filed with the High Court on Wednesday, Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) charged that it was not allowed to explain its actions before the Acting Minister for Manpower ordered it to compensate one of its workers.

It added in the 11-page court document that "none of the plaintiff's senior leaders or management, nor the chief operating officer, was called upon to give a statement to the MOM or participate in any way in the MOM's inquiry". The minister also acted unconstitutionally, FCBC said.

The matter revolves around an FCBC administrative staff member being dismissed a year ago without compensation, after she committed adultery and became pregnant.

The Employment Act protects an expectant mother from her fourth month of pregnancy. The church member, who was then about seven months pregnant, complained to MOM.

In August, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin decided that she was dismissed "without sufficient cause" within six months of her delivery date. He ordered FCBC to pay the woman $7,647 in salary and maternity benefits.

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