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  • Writer's pictureDerrick Soh Law Corporation

The New Work Injury Compensation Act

Updated: Feb 23, 2023


accident claims work injury

Changes to the Work Injury Compensation Act ("WICA") will take effect in 2020, the purpose in which is to enable a faster and simpler claims process that benefits the workers and the employers:

  1. To encourage employers to prevent injuries from happening in the first place.

  2. Faster and simpler claim process.

  3. Enhanced protection for employees.

  4. Clarity and certainty for employers.

Faster and Simpler Claims Process


According to the Ministry of Manpower, about 20% of permanent incapacity claims take longer than 6 months to resolve, due to the time taken for an assessment to be made. Under the new regime, doctors can give current incapacity assessment to expedite claim resolution at the first opportunity six months from the date of the accident, allowing more injured employees to receive their compensation sooner. Additionally, for cases where serious injuries or death had occurred, the claim process will be kick started automatically.


Previously, delays in the claim process could be attributed to errant employers who refused and/or failed to produce salary slips of the injured employee. However, under the new regime, the Ministry of Manpower will use industry salary data to compensate the injured employee and take the employer to task for failing to provide pay slips.


Designated Work Injury Compensation ("WIC") insurers


From 1 January 2021, WIC insurance policies can only be purchased or renewed through a designated insurer. Further, it is mandated that such policies must follow a definite core set of insurance terms and conditions by the Ministry of Manpower ("MOM") and cannot include any terms and conditions which circumvent the mandatory coverage set by MOM.


Companies with good safety records can benefit from having lower premium pricing and employers can now seek recovery for full compensation paid even if the compensation and medical expenses were paid due to error, false or misleading information.


Compulsory Reporting of all Injuries


Under the previous act, work-related accident would only need to be reported if the injured employee is given at least 4 days of medical leave as a result of the accident. Under the current regime, all accidents arising from work related activities must be reported within 10 days of the employer's first notice of the non-fatal accident or within 10 days of a fatal accident, whether or not the injured employee received less than 4 days medical leave or is only placed on light duties.


Enhanced Protection for Employees


Under the new regime, insurance coverage for all non-manual employees whose salaries (excluding overtime payment, bonus payment, annual wage supplement and any other allowances) do not surpass $2,600 per month is mandatory.


Further, the compensation limit for medical expenses, death and for total permanent incapacity are increased:-

Increased and New Penalties

Penalties for offences are increased under the new regime:

  1. Any person withholding necessary information or documents for claims processing will be liable for a maximum fine of $5,000 and/or 6 months’ imprisonment.

  2. Failure to pay deposit compensation ordered will result in a maximum fine of $15,000 and/or 12 months’ imprisonment.

  3. The maximum fine for non-or-late payment of compensation will be increased from $10,000 to $15,000.

  4. The maximum fine will be doubled for a second or subsequent conviction for WICA offences.

Conclusion


While the changes in WICA is an improvement to the process of injured employees claiming compensation from their employers, recourse under common law to pursue a civil claim against their employers in Court should not be ruled out. This is because there are instances whereby the amount of compensation under common law may be significantly higher than that under the WICA regime.


There are pros and cons to both the WICA regime and common law options in obtaining compensation. It is advisable that you consult a lawyer on which course of action would be more feasible for your particular situation.

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