Section 20 Industrial Relations Act 1967

Let us deal with the laws relating to dismissal of employees.

The main sources of this area of law are-

1) Statutes.  These are Acts which are passed by Parliament.  One very recent example was the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017 which was widely reported in the media.   We are however, in this case, referring to the Industrial Relations Act 1967 (“IRA”).

2) Case law.  This refers to court cases.  In court, the judge makes a decision on the case.  The judge applies the statute and decides what is applicable and what is not applicable.

The main provision is section 20 of IRA.

“Where a workman, irrespective of whether he is a member of a trade union of workmen or otherwise, considers that he has been dismissed without just cause or excuse by his employer, he may make representations in writing to the Director General to be reinstated in his former employment; the representations may be filed at the office of the Director General nearest to the place of employment from which the workman was dismissed.”

 The Director General shall not entertain any representations … unless such representations are filed within sixty days of the dismissal:

Provided that where a workman is dismissed with notice he may file a representation at any time during the period of such notice but not later than sixty days from the expiry thereof.

Let us consider the following terms within section 20 IRA.


The IRA applies to all, including those within the EA, and outside of the EA.  So long as the person is engaged under a contract of service as opposed to contract for service, they are covered.


This connotes a subjective element.  All a workman needs to do is to “consider” himself dismissed unfairly.


This covers ALL types of dismissals, i.e. due to misconduct, poor performance, VSS, MSS, retrenchment, retirement etc.

Without just cause or excuse

The ex-employee needs to show the facts/circumstances leading up to dismissal.  *However, the employer (AND NOT THE EMPLOYEE) has the burden to show that the dismissal was with just cause or excuse.  (Please see my comment on this below)


The remedy under section 20 is to be reinstated to the employee’s former job.

Sixty days

The employee has 60 days to file his claim.


*Comment- the employer must show the court that there was just cause or excuse when it carried out the dismissal of the employee.  The requirements differ for misconduct, poor performance, retrenchment, VSS, MSS, retirement, etc.



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