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Faith Community Baptist Church allowed judicial review

The Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) was on Thursday (May 29) given the green light to apply for a judicial review over Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin's decision ordering it to pay maternity benefits to a sacked employee.

SINGAPORE: The Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) was on Thursday (May 29) given the green light to apply for a judicial review over Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin's decision ordering it to pay maternity benefits to a sacked employee.

Mr Tan, then Acting Manpower Minister, had ordered the church to compensate its former Central Support Officer who was fired last year.

She had been terminated on grounds that she had breached the church's code of conduct in entering a relationship with a divorced male colleague, while she was still married.

The minister had decided that she was "dismissed without sufficient cause", and under powers granted to him under the Employment Act, he ordered the church to compensate the woman's salary and maternity benefits of S$7,000.

FCBC paid the compensation ordered but sought a quashing order against Mr Tan's decision, declaring it "unconstitutional" in interfering with the church's affairs.

Its application for leave was heard on May 8 before the High Court, and an oral decision given today (May 29), granting permission to FCBC to a "substantive hearing".

A spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers said in a statement that "the Court noted that while there is some force in the AG's submissions, it is unable to come to the view that FCBC has failed to meet the low threshold for leave."

The statement added that the Attorney-General will carefully consider the court's decision, and whether to appeal.

FCBC's senior pastor Lawrence Khong's response to the AGC's decision was posted on the church's Facebook page.

He said: "I am grateful that the High Court has given us leave to seek clarification on the issue. I reiterate our objective of seeking guidance from the Courts on where we stand with reference to our rights as a religious organisation and the parameters within which we operate as a church.

"We remain respectful of the authorities and acknowledge MOM's efforts to protect our nation's workforce. We hope that this is the beginning of deeper understanding and support of each other as we continually dialogue and contribute to nation building."


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