Mom’s Response to Inaccurate and Misleading Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) Articles
From March 2022 to 2023, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) published three articles with inaccuracies and misinformation on the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) policies. Although MOM has dedicated channels for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to clarify case facts with us, TWC2 did not take steps to verify the accuracy of information before publishing the misleading articles. We are clarifying the facts for the articles below:
Article #1: “After 22 years in Singapore, a career ends” (13 February 2023)
According to TWC2, “Selvakumar”, a migrant worker (MW), had filed a claim under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) after he sustained an injury in a worksite accident in September 2022. TWC2 claimed that MOM had failed to ensure that he received his entitled compensation as of mid-February 2023. This was characterised as “bureaucratic foot-dragging”.
This is an inaccurate and incomplete account. Our investigations revealed that Selvakumar was illegally employed when he sustained the injury, which he had initially denied. It is an offence for MWs to work for employers other than their official employers. Selvakumar’s uncooperative behaviour obstructed MOM’s efforts to process his WICA claim expeditiously. TWC2 could have easily ascertained these case facts with us through the available direct channels, before publishing the erroneous article.
The errant employer has been penalised, and Selvakumar has been warned. The employer also paid Selvakumar all medical-related expenses in full.
Article #2: “Injury compensation – how did $57,000 become $11,000?” (11 March 2023)
TWC2 featured the case of MW “Alinur”, whose employer had tried to deny and reduce his WICA compensation after he sustained a workplace accident. He was allegedly pressured by his manager to indicate that his claim amount was $11,000. MOM intervened and informed the employer that the claim amount was $57,000. Alinur was also later called for a medical re-assessment by the insurer, which TWC2 speculated was raised by the employer to reduce his compensation amount.
Alinur eventually received his WICA compensation of $57,000. MOM has safeguards to prevent abuse of the WICA system, which TWC2 had omitted in its article. Employers cannot unilaterally reduce the compensation amount or pressure their MWs into doing so. The compensation amount is based on a fixed formula, and MOM makes WIC calculators available on its website so that MWs can calculate their claims. MWs are also updated regularly of their claim status via letter, including the outcome of the Work Injury Compensation Medical Board’s assessment after an objection is filed. They, or any NGO which has taken on their case, can check with MOM on the case status. In addition, WIC compensation is paid directly to the MW by the insurer, and not through the employer.
Article #3: “As borders reopen and workers return, so do the usual abuses” (8 Mar 2022)
TWC2 claimed that the employer of a MW “Dipangkar” had failed to bear the worker’s medical expenses, although employers are legally obligated to bear their Work Permit Holders’ medical costs. This is false. MOM’s checks found that the employer had supported Dipangkar’s medical treatment, until he was certified medically fit to travel and returned home to continue treatment.
In addition, MOM had assisted in a change of employer application for Dipangkar. Despite multiple attempts to facilitate job matches, he was unable to find a new employer. MOM will assist any MW who reports issues to us to the best extent that we can. TWC2 had omitted our extensive support for Dipangkar, notwithstanding the availability of open channels to escalate cases or fact-check information.