Workplace Injuries: Two Employers Fined
Two employers were fined in November last year in the State Courts for failing to insure and maintain work injury compensation insurance for their employees. Valiancy Enterprise LLP (‘Valiancy’) and Suriakumar Ridgeway S/O Ramaiah (‘Suriakumar’), the sole proprietor of Ridgeway Marine & Construction, were also fined for failing to pay work injury compensation after the orders for compensation were made under the Work Injury Compensation Act (‘WICA’).
According to the facts of the case, on 17 Nov 2015, Phua Soon Beng, a carpenter employed by Valiancy, had the tip of his left thumb amputated by a wood cutting machine as he was clearing debris near the machine.
On 11 Oct 2016, an Order was issued against Valiancy to pay Phua $25,000 as work injury compensation, which Valiancy eventually failed to pay. MOM investigations also revealed that Valiancy did not insure and maintain work injury compensation insurance for five employees including Phua at the time of the accident. On 7 Nov 2017, Valiancy pleaded guilty to one count of non-payment of compensation, and five counts of non-insurance. In total, the company was fined $20,000. Valiancy has been barred from applying and renewing work permits for a period of 6 months. Valiancy has since paid Phua $25,000 for the work injury compensation.
The Second Case
As for the second case, on 30 May 2015, Sujan Ahmed Late Ali Ahmed, a marine trades worker employed by Suriakumar, injured his right elbow and back after falling from a ladder at work. On 28 Sep 2016, an Order was issued against Ridgeway to pay Sujan $11,625 as work injury compensation. Suriakumar failed to pay the full compensation within the stipulated time-frame of the Order and only $2,480.03 was paid to Sujan. MOM investigations revealed that Suriakumar did not insure and maintain work injury compensation insurance for eleven employees including Sujan at the time of the accident. On 16 Nov 2017, Suriakumar pleaded guilty to one count of non-payment of compensation and five counts of non-insurance. On 28 Nov 2017, Suriakumar was sentenced to pay a total fine of $21,000. The Court also ordered Suriakumar to pay Sujan his outstanding work injury compensation of $9,144.97. Suriakumar was sentenced to 120 days in jail for defaulting the court fine and the compensation to the worker. He has also been barred from applying and renewing work permits for a period of 6 months. Sujan will receive an ex-gratia payment from the Workers’ Fund for his work injury compensation claim. He has also been previously assisted by the Migrant Workers’ Centre.
Work Injury Compensation (WIC) Insurance
The Director of the Work Injury Compensation Department of MOM, Kee Ee Wah, said employers are required by law to purchase work injury compensation (WIC) insurance for workers and to pay out compensation to workers who are injured at work. Of the approximately 30,000 WIC cases processed annually, over 99.9% of valid claims are settled in full. Cases of non-compensation are rare. MOM will take enforcement action against employers who do not ensure and maintain WIC insurance for their workers. Under the WICA, employers convicted for the non-payment of work injury compensation within the stipulated timeline may be liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both. Employers convicted for the failure to ensure and maintain insurance under the WICA similarly may be liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.