Different occupations place different demands on its workers. Some pose minimal or zero risk – like desk-bound jobs – where you might just suffer the occasional backache or stiff neck. Other jobs however, high-risk ones, such as in sectors like manufacturing and construction, workers come into contact with dangerous elements on a daily basis. Sometimes workplace accidents result. This could include injuries or illnesses that either temporarily or severely affect a worker. In this blog we provide more insight into whether, as an employer, you would need to have your employees insured from workplace hazards and how you should go about it.
Why should you protect your workers?
A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization found that nearly 2 million people around the world die due to the conditions at work every year. Some common culprits of workplace deaths include heart attacks and strokes developed due to long working hours and exposure to air pollution as a result of industrial emissions. Other types of hazardous environments involve asthmagens, carcinogens and noise. In Singapore this year, a significant number of fatalities were a result of vehicular accidents and falls from heights. Other common types of work-place injuries or accidents include:
- Slips, trips and falls
- Machinery-related incidents
- Failure of equipment
- Collapse or failure of structures
- Fires and explosions
- Exposure to toxic gases and fumes
While risk assessments and control measures may be in place to protect your workers, sometimes unfortunate incidents happen – and this is why safeguarding your employees is essential.
What is the Work Injury Compensation Act?
The Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) stipulates that employers cover their employees from workplace accidents. If an employee is under a contract of service or apprenticeship – and engages in manual labour, and/or earns less than S$2,600 – they will be able to make claims for injuries or illnesses caused by work. With this act, employees need not file lawsuits when trying to get compensation for such situations.
Under WICA, instead of going through long, complex procedures that involve expensive lawyer fees – workers can quickly be compensated and can do so at a low cost. Both foreign and local employees, regardless of salary, age and nationality are covered. However, the self-employed, domestic workers and uniformed personnel are not covered under this act.
Who is eligible for claims under WICA and what can be claimed?
If you have contracted a disease or have met with an accident during the course of your employment, you will be eligible to make claims. Regardless of whether it might have taken place in Singapore or during an overseas assignment, you will be able to submit the claim. With WICA, you will be covered for:
- Wages for medical leave taken due to the injury or disease
- Hospital bills, medication or other medical expenses
- Lump sum compensation in the event of permanent disability, temporary incapacity or death
Expat Insurance provides work injury compensation plans to protect your employees in the event an accident happens.
What happens if you do not provide your employees with protection?
Last year several changes were made to WICA in order to take further steps to protect employees. From 1 September 2020, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has imposed stricter compliance measures. The Workplace Safety and Health (Incident Reporting) Regulations now require companies to report all work-related medical leave to MOM. Failure to comply the first time would result in a fine of S$5000 and repeated misdemeanours, subsequent fines of S$10,000.
Even though it is not mandatory for you to provide coverage for your employees who earn more than $2,600 and do not engage in manual labour – it is advisable and prudent to do as it ensures your workers are sufficiently protected.
Learn more about Expat Insurance’s work injury insurance
It requires concerted effort to ensure you take the necessary measures to ensure your employees are safe. Pressure to hit profit margins or having to deal with manpower crunches can sometimes result in negligence or the disregard of safety procedures. However, closely adhering to a set protocol can help to lower the risk of occupational incidents.
Find out more about how you can safeguard your workers in Singapore with Expat Insurance’s premium workplace insurance. Our team of insurance advisors are here to provide guidance on WICA compliance and how you can plug any vulnerability gaps for your employees.