Singapore

New law offers higher payouts, wider coverage for work injuries

New law will also cover 300,000 more workers

Mandatory insurance for work-related injuries will provide higher maximum payouts and cover around 300,000 more workers, under a new law passed in Parliament yesterday.

Employees placed on light duties owing to work injuries will also receive medical leave wages for up to two weeks, while companies with poor safety records may face higher insurance premiums when more information is available to insurers.

These and other changes will make the system better for both employers and employees, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said in introducing the Work Injury Compensation Bill 2019.

He said the Bill aims to incentivise employers to prevent injuries, speed up claims processing, enhance insurance coverage and benefits for injured employees and provide a balanced package of safeguards for both parties.

From Sept 1 next year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will share claims data with insurers and allow them to verify companies' declared workforce and annual payroll with the ministry's database.

This is so that insurers can offer lower premiums to companies with good safety records, said Mr Zaqy.

"Less-safe employers who are faced with higher premiums will have greater commercial incentive to put in place measures to prevent their employees from getting injured in the first place," he said.

COMPENSATION AMOUNT

The Bill also raises the maximum compensation amount from Jan 1 next year to $225,000 for death and $289,000 for total permanent incapacity.

This is 10 per cent higher than the current caps.

The maximum compensation proposed for medical expenses also goes up to $45,000, from $36,000.

These caps are being updated to keep pace with rising wages and healthcare costs, said Mr Zaqy.

All non-manual employees earning up to $2,600 a month will need to be covered by work injury compensation insurance, not just those working in factories or earning below $1,600.

The salary threshold will be raised in two stages: to $2,100 on April 1 next year and to $2,600 a year later.

Another change is to give employees placed on light duties similar compensation as those placed on medical leave.

Workers on light duties should be paid their average monthly earnings, including overtime, bonuses and allowances, for 14 days, and then two-thirds of this amount for up to one year from the accident.

Employers will have to report any instance of employees on medical leave or light duties due to a work injury.

To expedite claims processing, permanent incapacity compensation can be based on current incapacity at least six months after an accident, instead of waiting for an assessment of the degree of permanent incapacity to be made after a longer period.

The Bill will replace the existing Work Injury Compensation Act, which was last amended in 2011.

FOR MORE PARLIAMENT REPORTS, READ THE STRAITS TIMES

Employment