This article was first published on 13 November 2020 and has been updated with the latest information.
In Singapore, employers are obligated to provide certain medical benefits for their employees under the Employment Act. The Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) goes beyond that to oblige employers to also compensate employees for work-related injury and disease claims.
While WICA provides essential protection for workers, there may be a few who make wrongful claims. MOM published case-studies on two employees who made wrongful claims under WICA, and both were sentenced to imprisonment.
What Is WICA (Work Injury Compensation Act)?
WICA makes it easier for employees to make claims for work-related accidents or diseases they suffer without having to engage a lawyer or file a civil suit under common law. In essence, it is a low-cost and quicker alternative for employees to settle compensation claims.
In general, WICA covers all local and foreign employees, including those under apprenticeship, but not domestic workers and uniformed personnel. Workers can make WICA claims against their employers even if they are no longer working for the employer, the accident happened while on an overseas work trip or while on flexi-work arrangements.
What Does WICA Cover?
WICA allows affected employees to claim for three main types of compensation:
- Medical leave wages for days that your employee is issued with medical leave (MC) or light duty due to the work injury or disease.
- Medical expenses incurred, including hospital bills, medication, and other charges due to the work injury
- Lump sum compensation for permanent incapacity, current incapacity or death.
#1 Medical Leave Wages
Under Singapore’s Employment Act, employers have to provide employees 14 days of sick leave and up to 60 days of hospitalisation leave if granted by a Singapore-registered doctor or dentist.
WICA also reiterates this obligation for employers, and goes further to state that for employees put on light duties (from 1 September 2020), any shortfall in average monthly earnings need to be made full by employers.
From the 15th day that employees are on outpatient MC or light duties or from the 61st day of hospitalisation leave, WICA continues to oblige employers to pay two-thirds of their employees’ wages for a period of up to one year from the accident.
|Employee Medical Leave Period||Medical Leave Wages You Need To Pay|
|Outpatient medical (MC) or light duties up to 14 days|
Hospitalisation leave up to 60 days
|For MC: Full Average Monthly Earnings (AME) of employee |
For light duties: Shortfall (if any) in employee’s Average Monthly Earnings
|Outpatient medical (MC) or light duties from 15th day onwards, up to 1 year from accident|
Hospitalisation leave up to 61st day onwards, up to 1 year from accident
|For MC: 2/3 of Average Monthly Earnings |
For light duties: Shortfall (if any) below 2/3 of employee’s Average Monthly Earnings
Source: Ministry of Manpower (MOM)
For example, if your employee is on 100 days of hospitalisation leave, you have to pay their full wage for the first 60 days, and 2/3 of their full wage for the next 40 days.
In the scenario that your employee is on MC for 10 days before being hospitalised for 100 days, you have to pay their full wage for the MC period, their full wage for the first 60 days of their hospitalisation, and 2/3 of the next 40 days of hospitalisation.
Your employees’ earnings will be based on their past 12 months of earnings, including their remuneration, as well as overtime payments, concessions, allowances for travel, food and/or housing and contributions towards CPF or other pension or provident fund.
Do note that this is only payable for the employee’s working days, which is more relevant for employees on part-time and other flexi-work arrangements.
#2 Medical Expenses
Employers are also required to pay for their employees’ medical expenses for a period of up to 1 year or up to a maximum limit of $45,000 (increased from $36,000 before 1 September 2020), whichever comes first. These medical expenses have to be prescribed and billed by a Singapore-registered doctor or dentist.
Examples of medical expenses, as described by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) include medical consultation fees, ward charges, medical report fees, emergency medical transport charges, artificial limbs, dental charges and others.
#3 Lump Sum Compensation
Your employee or their family can claim a lump sum in the event of permanent incapacity, current incapacity or death. From 1 January 2020, the minimum compensation is $97,000 x (% of permanent incapacity), and a maximum compensation of $289,000 x (% of permanent incapacity).
|Changes To Compensation Limit For Incapacity||Accidents Before 1 Jan 2020||Accidents After 1 Jan 2020|
|Minimum Compensation||$88,000 x (% of permanent incapacity)||$97,000 x (% of permanent incapacity)|
|Maximum Compensation||$262,000 x (% of permanent incapacity)||$289,000 x (% of permanent incapacity)|
The (% of permanent incapacity) is based on a doctor’s assessment – based on a set of guidelines – after the employee’s medical condition has stabilised. If an employee is deemed to qualify for 100% permanent incapacity, 25% will be added to the compensation amount.
When an injury causes death, family or dependants of the deceased will receive the compensation. The compensation will be based on the employee’s Average Monthly Earnings x (age multiplying factor).
|Changes To Compensation Limit For Death||Accidents Before 1 Jan 2020||Accidents After 1 Jan 2020|
What Does WICA Do For Employers?
WICA is meant to protect employees, who continue to retain the right to claim through WICA or pursue a civil suit under common law (but not both). It also ensures that employees are able to receive compensation in a fair and expeditious manner.
For employers, WICA also provides a more straightforward set of guidelines for employee compensation. In addition, employers have to notify MOM of any fatal accidents as soon as and submit an accident report within 10 days of the accident, while they have to submit an incident report within 10 days of finding out a non-fatal accident.
|When To Report An Accident?|
|Fatal Accidents||Notify MOM as soon as possible|
Submit accident report within 10 days of the date of accident
|Non-Fatal Accidents||Submit incident report within 10 days of when you found out about the accident|
Employers must report all work-related MC or light duties to MOM. You can make the reports by logging in to Work Safety and Health (WSH) Incident reporting.
Should Employers Buy A Work Injury Compensation (WIC) Insurance?
Firstly, self-employed persons are not covered under WICA. The main implication is that they cannot purchase work injury compensation insurance. Instead, a personal accident may be suitable.
Secondly, MOM requires all employers to buy work injury compensation insurance for all employees doing manual work regardless of salary, and all employees doing non-manual work earning a salary of $2,100 or less (excluding overtime, allowances, and other bonuses). Failure to purchase a policy is an offence. From 1 April 2021, this amount rises to $2,600 or less.
While employers are not required to purchase work injury compensation insurance for non-manual employees earning more than $2,100 (and more than $2,600 after 1 April 2021), they are still liable for compensation claims from such employees. Employers can choose to purchase additional work injury compensation insurance for other employees on their own accord, to reduce risk and potential liability on their part.
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