Coronavirus: Lawyers' response to some FAQs amid pandemic

The public can also turn to free legal help sites for more information on matters troubling them amid the coronavirus outbreak.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Apart from seeking legal advice from lawyers, the public can also turn to free legal help sites like SingaporeLegalAdvice, and Lawapp.sg for more information on matters troubling them amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Here's a sampling of the general response of lawyers to three specific issues raised amid the outbreak.

ON WRONGFUL DISMISSAL

Q: What should I do if I am dismissed or have my employment terminated by my employer?

A: It is best to keep a record of your correspondence and communication with your employer, so you can consult a lawyer to advise you on your rights.

If the termination is done over the phone, you should write to the employer to confirm what has been said in writing or email, so that the Court can determine whether the termination or dismissal was unfair, said lawyer Nicholas Tang. He added that a termination should always be in accordance with the employment contract.

ON CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS

Q: My company is a service provider with an existing contract. Do I need to continue providing the contracted service if my staff are prevented from carrying out their jobs because of the virus situation? Will I get sued for breaching my contract?

A: Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, individuals and businesses can obtain temporary relief from legal action for not fulfilling specific contractual obligations.

However, if you are not covered under the act, other legal remedies that can be considered include commencing legal proceedings on the basis that the contract should be automatically discharged due to frustration of the contract or via operation of a force majeure clause in the contract, if any, said Mr Jonathan Wong, founder of LawGuide Singapore.

ON VISITATION RIGHTS

Q: With circuit-breaker measures in force, how are my existing rights and arrangements for access to my children affected?

A: Under the guidelines of the Ministry of Health, children of divorced parents are allowed to take turns to live with either parent, but any movement and travel should be kept to a minimum.

This means access arrangements may continue. Lawyer Nadia Moynihan has urged her clients to remain in their homes with their children, and not venture out as they used to do prior to the circuit-breaker.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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