MOM's Response to TWC2's Article “New Work Injury Compensation Act passed”
In an article “New Work Injury Compensation Act passed” posted on its website on 4 September 2019, TWC2 has made a number of false allegations.
False allegation #1: There is weak enforcement against non-reporting of injuries
TWC2 stated that they have not observed any employer being punished for not reporting work injuries and alleged that MOM’s enforcement is weak.
In 2018, MOM issued composition fines to 39 employers for non-reporting of work injuries. In 2016, a site manager was convicted and given a 6 months’ imprisonment for attempting to cover up a workplace accident. We provided this information in response to a parliamentary question raised by Member of Parliament Mr Louis Ng on 6 March 2019.
A simple fact check of public records would have shown TWC2 that their allegations were false. We urge TWC2 to take some efforts to verify facts. Additionally, if TWC2 knows of any case of non-reporting of injuries, it can help the affected workers by simply reporting such cases to MOM. An established channel has been in place since June 2013 for TWC2 to refer workers who require assistance to MOM.
False allegation #2: MOM is reluctant to compel employers to pay for medical treatment when the work-relatedness of an injury is in doubt
TWC2 alleged that MOM does not compel employers to pay for the medical expenses if the work injury is disputed. This is false. MOM requires employers to pay for medical treatments even if the employer disputes that the injury suffered by the worker is related to work. MOM instructs employers to pay in such scenarios and have taken enforcement actions against the small minority (fewer than 20 cases a year) that did not comply.
Additionally, TWC2 should know that apart from the Work Injury Compensation Act, the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act requires employers to pay for all the medical expenses of their migrant workers in non-work injury cases. There is therefore no ‘loophole’ as TWC2 implied that would allow employers to avoid paying the medical expenses simply by contesting that the injury was work-related.
False allegation #3: Workers can be denied WICA compensation if employers do not declare truthfully in incident reports
All reported cases will be automatically processed for WICA compensation. If employers dispute the work injury, investigations will be carried out to ascertain if the injury is related to work. Workers will be given the opportunity to present their side of the story, and would not be prejudiced by information in the report.
It is therefore untrue that a worker could be denied his WICA compensation simply because the employer does not disclose fully in the incident report. There is hence no need, as TWC2 suggested, for the worker to have access to the report to ensure that his WICA compensation is paid out.
One possible situation where workers may want the incident report is when they wish to use it to file a civil suit under common law. Under common law, information suggesting whether any party was at fault in the accident could affect the claim. In such situations, workers can obtain copies of the report by paying a nominal fee of $5.