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Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) is fair to employers and injured workers

A TWC2 online article cites Alam Md Khorshed’s case whose employer supposedly withheld his medical leave wages for five months. If Alam was given the right advice early, he would have received his medical leave wages sooner as his injury has been assessed by MOM to be work-related.

There are three issues we wish to raise with this article:

a. Under WICA, injured workers just need to prove that the injury was due to work.

There were no eye-witnesses who saw Alam fall off the ladder on 13 Oct 2016 but MOM accepted the injury as work-related. A co-worker had testified extending him assistance after hearing his shouts for help. MOM’s decision was also based on JJ Clinic doctor’s record of the injuries sought by Alam.

In TWC2’s article, Alam claimed the employer did not pay his medical leave wages. This is not true. Alam’s employer has paid for Alam’s medical expenses and medical leave wages till 18 Dec 2016, which was the end date of Alam’s medical certificates (MCs).

b. To claim for medical leave wages and expenses, the injured foreign worker must submit original medical bills and MCs to the employer. In cases of doubt, medical proof is required ie. the doctor’s confirmation they are issued for the work injury.

After the MC ended on 18 Dec 2016, Alam produced more MCs from 1 Feb 2017. As there was a six-week break between 19 Dec 2016 and 1 Feb 2017 when Alam was not on MC, the employer and insurance company requested proof that the MCs were related to the work injury. It is common for insurance companies to request for original medical bills and/or original MCs to justify a claim, especially when there is a time lapse and different doctors have treated the patient.

Alam was only able to provide the medical proof and medical certificate by 1 Aug 2017. Subsequently, his employer made full-payment for his medical leave wages and medical expenses on 5 Sep 2017.

c. To make a claim under WICA, there is no need to engage a lawyer. MOM will guide injured workers through the process for free.

Alam had engaged a lawyer when all he needed to do was to submit medical proof from the doctor that the MCs were for the work injury. Alam can also approach our officers in the MOM Services Centre for clarification and assistance.

In 2016, over 99.9% of approximately 16,000 injured workers had their cases successfully resolved. Delays to compensation involving medical leave wages and medical expenses occur when injured workers are unable to submit medical bills/MCs, or medical proof, as in the case of Alam.

We have informed NGOs, including TWC2, on what they can do to facilitate the claims process for injured foreign workers.

TWC2 stated that the interview with Alam was conducted in June 17 but the article was only posted on 23 Aug 2017. TWC2 should have urged Alam to: (i) produce the medical proof to the employer, so that the employer could verify quickly and make the necessary payment; or (ii) flag the case to MOM early for intervention.

Injured workers who need help for work injury claims are strongly encouraged to contact MOM’s helpline directly at 64385122. More information on WICA is available here.