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Pradeep Nair

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Pradeep Nair is a Senior Associate in Baker McKenzie Singapore office.

In two separate decisions, the High Court provides a new sentencing framework that imposes heftier punishments for failing to ensure the safety of employees at work and provides clarification as to whether settlement payments may be taken into consideration when determining the amount of compensation payable by an employer for workplace injury. The General Division of the High Court (SGHC) in two recent decisions in Public Prosecutor v Manta Equipment (S) Pte Ltd [2022] SGHC 157 and MTM Ship Management Pte Ltd v Devaswarupa and others [2022] SGHC 178 considered two pieces of legislation concerning workplace safety and accidents in Singapore.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, at his recent National Day Rally speech, acknowledged the anxiety felt by middle income Singaporeans over foreign work pass holders, especially with the economic uncertainty heightened by COVID-19.

Addressing what he described as personal and emotional arguments by Singaporeans over perceived foreign competition for jobs and opportunities, the prime minister signaled that the government will introduce new anti-discrimination laws with a range of penalties extending beyond the current administrative penalties, such as restrictions on an employer from hiring foreign workers.

When allegations of misconduct are levelled against employees, employers are often left with the task of conducting internal investigations to get to the bottom of the matter. Employment legislation in Singapore does not prescribe specific standards or processes for such investigations. This has given rise to a number of practical questions for both employers and employees. The Singapore High Court in Dong Wei v Shell Eastern Trading (Pte) Ltd and another [2021] SGHC 123 addressed these issues.

In 2016, an influential Agency Manager of Prudential Assurance Company Singapore orchestrated a mass exodus of over 200 agents to a competitor, Aviva Financial Advisors Pte Ltd. Prudential, in turn, sued the Agency Manager for up to S$2.5 billion in damages, in a high-profile case which attracted significant media attention in Singapore.