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Valid reasons to terminate employment include:
It is unfair to dismiss an employee without just or sufficient cause. This constitutes wrongful dismissal and includes termination of employment for the following reasons:
Discriminatory grounds such as age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities or disability.
To deprive an employee of benefits or entitlements, e.g. maternity benefits.
To punish an employee for exercising an employment right.
An employer can dismiss an employee according to the notice period stated in their employment contract or pay them salary in lieu of notice. If the contract does not stipulate a notice period, this should be according to the statutory provisions in the Employment Act.
Dismissal on the grounds of misconduct is the only ground where an employer does not need to give the employee notice. However, the employer must conduct an inquiry before taking action to dismiss an employee. Examples of misconduct include absenteeism, fighting and insubordination.
An employee can resign from their job at any point by presenting their employer with a resignation letter. Upon formal acceptance of their resignation, an employee will be required to serve the notice period stated in their employment contract or pay salary in lieu of notice to their employer instead.
If their employment contract does not stipulate a notice period this will be in accordance with the provisions stated in the Employment Act.
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As Singapore is an at-will jurisdiction, either party may terminate the employment contract at any time by giving notice or salary in lieu of notice. It is, therefore, relatively easy to terminate employment in Singapore
An employee who claims they have been unfairly dismissed may submit a wrongful dismissal claim with the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM). If successful, they will be entitled to reinstatement in their former employment or compensation which includes an amount equal to the wages that they would have earned had they not been dismissed plus damages for the harm caused to them.
To mitigate this risk, it is important for employers to ensure dismissals are conducted lawfully, especially in cases of misconduct where the requirement to conduct an inquiry ought to be carefully undertaken.