WICA – The Recent Changes

The year 2016 saw a few changes in The Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) with modifications in the compensation limits in the event of complete and permanent incapacity or death due to a work-related injury.

What is WICA?

Through The Work Injury Compensation Act, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) aims to make it easier for individuals to obtain compensation for injuries at work without the hassle of filing any legal suit, thus eliminating unnecessary legal expenses and frustrating delays. It covers all employees irrespective of salary level, except for those who are self-employed or independent contractors. Domestic workers and uniformed personnel are also not eligible for Work Injury Compensation. Under WICA, an eligible employee can receive wages for medical leaves, medical expenses or in case of death or permanent incapacity, a lump sum compensation.

The New Limits

From 1 January 2016, renewed compensation limits have come into existence to keep pace with the current fiscal scenario. The minimum compensation level in the event of the death of an employee due to a work-related injury has been raised from $57,000 to $69,000 and the maximum amount has reached $204,000, a significant rise from the previous $170,000.

In the case of permanent and complete incapacity, the employee is eligible for a minimum of $88,000 and a maximum of $262,000 as compensation. Before 1 Jan 2016, the minimum and maximum recompense were $73,000 and $218,000 respectively. If the doctor certifies a 100% Permanent Incapacity, extra 25% compensation is paid to offset the expenses related to the care of the injured employee.

For medical expenses caused by the treatment of an injury sustained at work, an employee is eligible to obtain up to $36,000, which is $6000 more than the previous $30,000. Also, according to the recent changes, the medical expenses will include treatments to facilitate an early return to work.

The Effects

The changes in the compensation limits show an average 20% rise in the work injury compensation limits payable to employees in the event of an accident at the work place. Consequently, the insurance premiums also show a comparable rise in the premium to counterbalance the higher payouts.

A similar change had been made in the year 2012, when changes were made based on the 2010 median wage of employees. According to MOM, the median wage has since then seen another 20% rise, even as medical bills marked a significant increase as well. The 2012 alterations also included other significant measures like expanding the scope of compensable diseases, disallowing work-related exclusion clauses and clarifying the employer’s insurer’s liability to pay when there are multiple insurance policies etc.