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Employers are fully responsible for their workers

  • The Sunday Times (20 June 2010) : Employers are fully responsible for their workers
  • The Sunday Times (13 June 2010) : Bosses still liable for workers' medical bills
  • The Sunday Times (13 June 2010) : Do more to help injured workers

Employers are fully responsible for their workers
- The Sunday Times, 20 June 2010

We thank Mr Simon Seah and Mr Kwan Jin Yao for sharing their views in “Bosses still liable for workers’ medical bills” and “Do more to help injured workers” (13 June 2010).

2. Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, employers are responsible for and must bear the costs of the upkeep and maintenance of their work permit holders and S Pass holders. This includes the provision of any medical treatment that the worker requires. As rightly pointed out by Mr Seah, employers bear the full costs of bringing in foreign workers, rather than impose them on society. These responsibilities form part of the conditions for granting a work permit and are made known to employers at the point of work permit application.

3. Mandatory medical insurance for foreign workers was introduced by MOM to help employers manage their workers’ medical bills. It provides cover for the foreign workers’ medical expenses, including hospital bills arising from treatment for causes that may not be work-related. The minimum coverage was increased from $5,000 a year to $15,000 a year from 1 January 2010. The coverage was set at a basic level to keep premiums affordable for employers while being sufficient to cover the majority of foreign workers’ hospitalisation bills. Depending on employers’ needs, they can consider whether to maintain insurance coverage above the minimum requirement, to better protect themselves against high medical bills.

4. MOM reminds employers that in the event that the cost of medical treatment exceeds the insurance coverage, employers will have to bear the difference. Employers who face difficulties in paying the medical bills of their foreign workers may approach the relevant healthcare provider directly to discuss various options, such as installment payments. MOM is working with the Migrant Workers Centre to ensure that the two foreign workers received proper care after their discharge from hospital. They are now recuperating in a nursing home while assisting with police investigations.

Bosses still liable for workers’ medical bills
- The Sunday Times, 13 June 2010

Regarding last Sunday's article, 'Long road to recovery', I would like to provide feedback on the sidebar ('Who will foot the hefty medical bills?')

Under Ministry of Manpower (MOM) regulations, any company which employs a foreign worker needs to purchase medical insurance coverage for him. The minimum coverage has been raised to $15,000 a year. This has been rightly stated.

However, the article did not state that any medical cost beyond the $15,000 is to be borne by the employer, and the foreign worker is not liable at all.

There is no limit on how much the employer is liable. This applies to any injury suffered by the foreign worker, whether or not it is work-related.

I have checked this in writing with the MOM, and one of its senior assistant directors confirmed that employers are liable, to an unlimited amount, beyond the $15,000 medical insurance coverage for any foreign worker here.

The article has created an impression that foreign workers here are left to fend for themselves when they get into trouble and require medical attention.

As a result, people are coming forward with donations to help these workers.
However, the reality is that the employer is responsible as long as the foreign worker is in Singapore.

I know this because I employ a foreign worker who was involved in an accident on his way home one day. This was not work-related.

However, my company was liable for all his medical bills and we paid since it was covered by insurance.

Even if it was not, and the bills went beyond $15,000, we would still have to pay as it is the law.

Do more to help injured workers
- The Sunday Times, 13 June 2010

I read with great sadness last Sunday's report on the victims of the Kallang slashings ('Long road to recovery').

The current payouts would be woefully insufficient to cover the medical and hospitalisation bills of the injured and maimed foreign workers, or to make up for their lost future incomes.

The Ministry of Manpower should work closely with employers and insurance agencies to provide more comprehensive coverage for these workers, as well as to cover employees on a case-by-case basis for special situations.

In the meantime, voluntary welfare organisations and related agencies could consider establishing a trust fund, while helping the victims rehabilitate and manage their financial troubles.