Singapore church told to pay over adultery firing

AP News
Posted: Aug 20, 2013 5:08 AM

SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore's government has ordered a prominent church to pay compensation to a former employee who was fired for alleged adultery, officials said Tuesday.

The Faith Community Baptist Church has reportedly said it will abide by the order and pay the woman 7,000 Singapore dollars ($5,500) in salary and maternity benefits, but it insisted it was correct to dismiss her.

The woman, who handled administrative responsibilities for the church, filed a complaint to Singapore's Ministry of Manpower after she was fired last September.

The Straits Times newspaper said she had been finalizing her divorce when she was found to be pregnant with the child of another church worker, who has since resigned. She is believed to have refused instructions by church officials to end the relationship if she wanted to keep her job, the newspaper added.

The manpower ministry said Tuesday in an email to the AP that it was "satisfied that she was dismissed without sufficient cause within six months of her delivery date."

The church, which has more than 10,000 members, had previously refused to pay the woman any maternity benefits. Singaporean labor laws specify legal protection for female workers who face dismissal if they are at least four months pregnant.

Ministry officials met this week with representatives of the church and instructed them to compensate her.

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Church officials did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The church's senior pastor, Lawrence Khong, told The Straits Times that "if we concede that the dismissal was unjust, it means we are condoning adultery and it will weaken our moral and spiritual authority in the organization."

Singaporean political commentator P. N. Balji said the government made the decision "according to the letter of the law."

"This kind of behavior (by the church) is archaic and has no place in a modern country that has ambitions to become a global city," Balji added.