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New work-injury laws improve protection for workers, while staying fair to employers: MOM

In its letter (“Revised laws on work injury a boon for workers, but some questions remain”; Sept 22), the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) asked how the new Work Injury Compensation Act (Wica) would protect workers’ interests.

New work-injury laws improve protection for workers, while staying fair to employers: MOM

Work-injury-compensation insurers must follow government rules on compensable claims under revised laws, says the Ministry of Manpower.

Christopher Koh, Director, Occupational Safety and Health Unit, Workplace Policy and Strategy Division, Ministry of Manpower

In its letter (“Revised laws on work injury a boon for workers, but some questions remain”; Sept 22), the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) asked how the new Work Injury Compensation Act (Wica) would protect workers’ interests.

Under the new Wica, work-injury-compensation insurers have to abide by the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) claims-processing protocol. This means following MOM rules on which claims are compensable. MOM will still pro-actively review rejected claims to ensure fair outcomes.

Work-injury-compensation insurers also do not have discretion in setting the compensation amount. Compensation for incapacity is based on a formula comprising the doctor’s incapacity assessment, the worker’s earnings, and his or her age. The figures for earnings are drawn from documentary evidence, such as payslips.

The first treating doctor will be the default authority in assessing the extent of incapacity, as he or she would have the most accurate picture of injuries after an accident. Workers can, nonetheless, switch to another doctor of their choice to make the assessment if there is prima facie evidence of inadequate care. They can also seek treatment from any registered doctor in Singapore.

If there are subsequent complications that worsen incapacity, doctors will account for these in their assessment as part of their professional responsibilities. There is no need for the worker to request evidence that the complications are linked to the injury.

Under the new Wica, hospitals can recover medical expenses for work injuries directly from work-injury-compensation insurers on MOM’s instruction. Nonetheless, this process is not automatic because hospitals may not be able to determine if an injury was due to work, and hence, whether the insurer is liable to pay. MOM will take action against errant employers who fail to pay their workers’ medical expenses.

Underpaid workers should report discrepancies as early as possible to MOM, even before a work accident happens. We urge non-governmental organisations, such as Home, to help workers by getting them to approach MOM in such situations.

MOM shares Home’s interest in looking out for the welfare of injured workers. We designed the new Wica precisely to protect injured workers better, while remaining fair to employers.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

Related topics

Work Injury Compensation Act workplace safety employers workers MOM

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