LCQ21: Handling of doubtful work injury cases
According to the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282) (the Ordinance), employees injured at work are entitled to compensation for work injuries. Employers are required to notify the Commissioner for Labour (the Commissioner) upon the occurrence of the work injury incidents pursuant to the Ordinance. If an employer considers that he has no liability in respect of a work injury incident or has doubt about its authenticity, he should conduct preliminary investigation as soon as possible and attach the relevant information or justifications to the form submitted for notifying the Commissioner, so as to seek assistance from the Labour Department (LD). Some labour groups have relayed to me that some employers often regard work injury incidents as doubtful and deliberately prolong their preliminary investigations, in order to evade their liability to pay compensation for work injuries. Regarding the handling of doubtful work injury cases, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of notifications, received by the Commissioner in each of the past three years, from employers in respect of doubtful work injury cases;
(2) of the number of doubtful work injury cases mentioned in (1) which have been investigated by LD; among those cases the investigations of which have been completed, of the respective numbers of cases in which the injuries have been assessed by LD as (i) work-related and (ii) non work-related; the criteria and procedures adopted by LD for conducting investigations, as well as the average time taken for handling each case;
(3) among the doubtful cases in which the injuries were assessed, in each of the past three years, by LD as work-related, of the respective numbers of cases in which (i) the employers indicated in their responses that they admitted and did not admit liability to pay compensation for the work injuries, as well as (ii) the employers have not yet made any response;
(4) of the measures LD has put in place to prevent employers from resorting to questioning the authenticity of work injuries and prolonging preliminary investigations to evade their liability to pay compensation for work injuries to employees; and
(5) of the number of cases, in each of the past three years, in which the employers, after receiving the certificates, issued by LD on work injury cases, stating the amount of the compensation and details of its assessment, paid the relevant amount of compensation and medical expenses to the injured employees within the payment period; how LD follows up cases in which the employers refuse to pay the relevant moneys?
My reply to the question raised by Hon Leung Yiu-chung is as follows:
(1) The Employees' Compensation Ordinance (ECO) stipulates the rights and obligations of an employer and an employee when the latter sustains injury or dies as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of employment, or suffers from occupational diseases specified by ECO. The Labour Department (LD) will follow up a work injury case if there is doubt on the part of the employer and/or the employee. In the course of the processing of a work injury case, the employer and/or the employee as well as other stakeholders concerned may cast different doubts. LD does not keep a specific breakdown of the number of notifications from employers in respect of doubtful work injury cases.
(2) and (3) In case a work injury is in dispute, irrespective of whether the doubt is raised by the employer or the employee, LD will scrutinise the case in detail, explain the provisions of ECO to both parties and collect detailed information related to the accident such as a detailed account of the accident, the employer's accident investigation report, copy of sick leave certificates issued to the employee arising from the accident, etc. LD may, with the written consent of the employee, request information from relevant departments and organisations like medical reports and police investigation reports as necessary. Occupational Health Officers of LD will provide expert advice from the medical points of view depending on the merits of the case. Upon collation of all the relevant information, LD will inform both parties about its views on the likelihood and relevance of the case being a work injury. If the dispute is resolved, LD will arrange the employee to attend medical clearance or medical assessment. If not, the employee is entitled to seek adjudication from the Court and LD will assist him to apply for legal aid from the Legal Aid Department. The time taken by LD to handle a doubtful work injury case hinges on the facts of the case and the progress of receiving the necessary information. LD does not keep a breakdown of the results of its follow-up actions and subsequent responses from the employers for admitting liability.
(4) Since May 2016, LD has enhanced its support service for handling dispute in work injury cases through dedicated follow-up, early intervention, proactive contact with employers and employees, and arrangement of face-to-face meetings. The enhanced mode of service facilitates communication between employers and employees, clarification of issues under dispute and timely resolution of their differences. This helps safeguard the employees' rights and benefits. If the employer refuses or delays the payment of compensation under ECO without reasonable grounds, LD will urge or warn him to pay compensation to the employee as soon as possible. LD will also conduct investigation and take out prosecution against the offending employer when there is sufficient evidence.
(5) Amongst the work injury cases settled in the past three years, the number of cases with "Certificate of Compensation Assessment" (Form 5) or "Certificate of Review of Compensation Assessment" (Form 6) issued to employers and employees by LD, and the number of cases of which LD was informed about employers' failure to pay compensation in accordance with ECO are tabulated below. Upon receipt of a complaint from an employee that the employer fails to pay compensation under ECO, LD will promptly carry out follow-up action and investigation, and will initiate prosecution on the basis of adequate evidence.
|Year||Number of cases with Form 5 or Form 6 issued to employers and employees by LD||Number of cases of which LD was informed about employers' failure to pay compensation in accordance with ECO|
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:32
Issued at HKT 14:32