From 30 March 2015 to 20 April 2015, the Ministry of Manpower (the “MOM”) sought feedback from the public on proposed amendments to the Work Injury Compensation Act (the “WICA”) to increase compensation limits for injuries sustained in the course of employment, and to extend the compensation payable to cover expenditure facilitating early return to work.
The WICA provides injured employees with a low-cost and expeditious no-fault alternative to common law proceedings to settle compensation claims. Under the WICA, an employer is liable to pay compensation regardless of whether the employee is at fault, as long as the employee suffers an injury by an accident arising out of and in the course of employment. In exchange, the employer’s liability for compensation is capped.
The Third Schedule to the WICA sets out the amount of, and limits on, the compensation payable in respect of personal injury of an employee caused by accident arising out of and in the course of employment. The Third Schedule also clarifies the types of medical treatment compensable.
Higher compensation limits under WICA
The MOM is proposing to revise the compensation limits under the WICA as they were last revised in 2012 and based on the 2010 media wage of resident employees. Both the median wage and medical bills for industrial accidents have since increased.
The MOM proposes to revise the current WICA compensation limits for death, permanent incapacity and medical expenses to reflect the increase in median wages of resident employees. In doing so, the MOM will take into consideration how such an increase might impact overall business costs.
Covering expenditures that facilitate early return to work
The MOM also proposes to amend the WICA to extend the medical expenses claimable to cover expenditures that facilitate the rehabilitation of injured employees so that they can return to work early. Examples of such expenditures are those incurred in engaging professionals to develop a return to work plan, assess the work environment and provide recommendations to employers on how to better accommodate their injured employees.
The necessary legislative changes to implement these proposed changes are expected to take effect in 2016.
The MOM public consultation page on the proposed changes to the WICA is made available from the Reach website www.reach.gov.sg.