What is the Work Injury Compensation Act in Singapore?

Learn about Singapore's Work Injury Compensation Act: understand rights, obligations, and legal implications effectively.

Work Injury Compensation Act Singapore

The Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) is a Singaporean law that provides assistance to employees who suffer from work-related injuries and illnesses. It was first introduced in 2019 and then officially implemented in January 2020. The government’s main goal in administering WICA has been to promote fairness between employers and employees in cases of occupational injury.

Before this legislation was introduced, workers who were injured on the job were forced to pursue common law claims against their employers in order to receive compensation. This lengthy, costly, and complicated process disincentivized many from seeking justice and left them vulnerable to financial strain. WICA aims to make the process simpler, more accessible, and less costly for employees so they can focus on their recovery without added stress.

Is Workers' Compensation Required In Singapore?

Workers’ compensation is required for almost all manual workers in Singapore, regardless of their position or salary level. Both local and foreign employees are entitled to compensation should they suffer a work-related injury or disease, which is defined by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) as “any unintended event that occurs in the course of work (excluding domestic work) that leads to an injury or condition”.

Employers are also expected to provide staff who perform non-manual work and earn a salary of $2,600 or less a month – excluding overtime pay, bonus pay, annual wage supplements, and productivity incentive payments – with workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

Claims can be made up to one year after the date of the accident or diagnosis of an occupational disease. However, it is recommended that employees inform their employer and seek medical treatment as soon as possible to ensure a smooth claims process.

What Happens If You Don’t Provide Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

All Singaporean employers with staff that meet qualifying criteria must engage in work injury compensation insurance. Failure to do so is a violation of the Work Injury Compensation Act and can result in penalties such as a fine of up to $10,000, a term of up to 12 months in prison, or both.

What Types of Injuries and Diseases Are Covered Under WICA?

WICA provides protection to workers who experience medically diagnosable injuries and diseases that can be attributed to work-related activities. This includes accidents that occur on the job, diseases caused by occupational hazards such as exposure to toxic chemicals or repetitive movements, and aggravations of pre-existing conditions due to work.

Some common examples of injuries covered under WICA include fractures, sprains and strains, burns, lacerations, and occupational diseases like carpal tunnel syndrome or hearing loss. Mental health conditions such as work-related stress or depression may also be covered if they can be linked to workplace factors.

What Types of Compensation Can Be Claimed?

Individuals covered by the Work Injury Compensation Act can claim compensation for any wages and medical expenses attributable to their work-related injury or disease. This includes both past and future earnings, as well as medical bills for treatment and rehabilitation.

Lump sum compensation is also available in cases of permanent incapacity, current incapacity, or death.

What Are the Compensation Limits Under WICA?

The MOM outlines a few terms and limits for compensation under WICA. These act as guardrails to ensure that the compensation is fair and reasonable for both employees and employers.

Medical leave wages can only be claimed for working days covered by a doctor-granted medical certificate (MC) within one year from the date of the accident. This compensation is not payable for non-working days like statutory holidays and weekends. Employers are to calculate medical leave wages based on an employee’s average monthly earnings (AME) in the 12 months before the accident.

Medical expense coverage is meant to alleviate the financial burden of seeking necessary treatment and rehabilitation. This includes medical consultation fees, ward charges, medical report fees, emergency medical transport charges, the cost of medicine, artificial limbs, surgical appliances, and dental care.

WICA also ensures payment for treatments that facilitate an early return to work, as well as claimable charges or case management, functional capacity evaluations, and worksite assessments.

Individuals are covered for medical expenses incurred up to one year from the date of their accident, or until they hit the maximum claim amount of $45,000, whichever comes first.

Lump-sum payments are determined on a case-by-case basis using the following formula:

Amount payable = Employee’s average monthly earnings × age multiplying factor × % permanent incapacity

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