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27 September 2019

On 3 September 2019, the Work Injury Compensation Bill (“Bill”) was passed in Parliament. The Bill was introduced in Parliament for first reading in Parliament on 5 August 2019. The Bill aims to improve the existing Work Injury Compensation Act (“WICA”) in the following respects:

  • Influence employers and insurers to be more proactive in preventing injuries from happening in the first place; 
  • Speed up and improve claims processing; 
  • Enhance protection for employees; and 
  • Provide greater assurance to employers when buying Work Injury Compensation (“WIC”) insurance. 

In his Second Reading Speech, Minister of State for Manpower Mr Zaqy Mohamad explained the four main ways in which WICA will be improved:

  • Aligning commercial incentive of employers and insurers to injury prevention: Insurers will be required to share policy and claims information with the Commissioner for Labour (“Commissioner”). The relevant data will be made available to all designated insurers approved by the Commissioner. To facilitate more accurate premium pricing, all designated insurers will be able to verify their clients’ declared aggregated workforce size and annual payroll through the Ministry of Manpower’s database. With greater information transparency, employers with good safety records can expect to enjoy lower premiums. Less safe employers who are faced with higher premiums will have greater commercial incentive to put in place measures to prevent their employees from suffering injury in the first place.
  • Improving processes to ensure expeditious WIC claims processing: To speed up and improve WIC claims processing, five amendments will be made, namely: (1) designated insurers to process WIC claims, (2) allowing compensation to be based on assessment of current incapacity, (3) compensation based on a multiple of the basic rate of pay, (4) streamlining process to “auto-claim” for fatal and serious injuries and (5) providing penalties for non-cooperation in the claim process.
  • Enhancing protection for employees: The WICA subsidiary legislation will also be amended to align it with the salary threshold for non-workmen under Part IV of the Employment Act, so as to give added protection to these employees. This will be done in phases to allow employers time to adjust: 
    • Phase 1: In 2020, compulsory insurance will be extended to non-manual employees earning up to S$2,100 per month, regardless of where they work. 
    • Phase 2: The monthly salary threshold will be increased to $2,600 in 2021.

Other improvements include expanding compensation to employees on light duties due to work injuries, requiring employers to report instances of medical leave or light duties due to work injuries, enabling the Commissioner to allow employees to undergo medical examination by another doctor during the personal injury assessment and updating of WICA compensation limits.

  • Providing more certainty for employers: The Commissioner may prescribe a core set of standard terms for WICA-compliant policies to ensure that insurance policies cover employers’ WICA liabilities adequately. Any insurer who has sold an employer a policy purporting to be WICA-compliant, must compensate the injured employee according to the standard terms of a WICA-compliant policy. It will be an offence for insurers to sell policies purporting to be WICA-compliant, when they are not. It will also be an offence for any insurer not approved by the Commissioner as a designated insurer to sell a WICA-compliant policy.

Additionally, the Commissioner may order a claimant to refund to the employer (or insurer), if the employer (or insurer) had paid for the lump sum compensation or medical expenses due to error or false or misleading information. In this connection, it will be an offence for any person to obtain compensation by providing false or misleading information.

The Bill also makes consequential and related amendments to other Acts.

The existing WICA will be repealed and replaced by a new Work Injury Compensation Act 2019.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the Parliament website www.parliament.gov.sg and the Ministry of Manpower website www.mom.gov.sg:

 

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