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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 10 February 2008

Workmen’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill passed


Speech by Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister of State (Education and Manpower) for the 2nd Reading of the Workmen’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill on 22 January 2008

Purpose Of Workmen's Compensation
Under the common law, the injured worker has to initiate legal actions to claim damages from his employer. To succeed, the claimant has to prove that the employer had been negligent and therefore held liable. He will need to gather sufficient evidence to prove his case.
The Workmen's Compensation Act or WCA provides a simpler and quicker way to settle compensation claims by avoiding protracted legal proceedings.
An employee claiming under the Act is not required to prove that his employer is at fault. He only needs to show that his injury was sustained in the course of work. There is also a fixed formula in the Act on the amount of compensation to be awarded, and capped so that the financial liability on the employer is limited. The no-fault claims and prescribed amounts of compensation serve to facilitate and expedite claims under the WCA. However, employees can still choose not to claim under the WCA, but instead to pursue damages through the civil courts under the common law.
The workmen's compensation system has been effective and efficient. Many employees have benefited under the system. In 2007, about 17,000 claims were filed with MOM and more than $71 million in compensation payouts were awarded to the claimants.
However, the employment landscape has changed since the WCA was enacted over 30 years ago. We need to review and refresh the system to ensure that it continues to be relevant and effective.
Hence, over the past year, MOM has conducted extensive consultation with the public, the unions and the businesses on the need to amend the Workmen's Compensation Act. More than 200 comments have been received. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have contributed, in particular the Singapore National Employers Federation, the National Trades Union Congress, the General Insurance Association of Singapore and many other industry associations.
This Bill proposes changes to the WCA in three key areas. First, the coverage of the Act has been expanded. Second, compensation norms are updated to keep pace with wage increases and changing circumstances. Third, changes are made to streamline the process. In proposing the changes, MOM has been mindful of the need to maintain a balanced approach so that the amended Act would remain acceptable to both employees and employers.
Sir, let me elaborate.

Source: Press Release 22 Jan 2008

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