LCQ16: Employees' compensation
Some representatives of labour groups have relayed to me that there are a lot of inadequacies in the system for the lodging of compensation claims arising from work injuries and deaths by the employees concerned or their family members, which include the lengthy claim process, the lack of power for the Labour Department (LD) to rule on labour disputes involving employees' work injury compensation, and the need for claimants to contact the various relevant government departments, insurance companies, medical institutions and courts concerned. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective annual numbers of employers (i) prosecuted by LD and (ii) convicted in 2015 and 2016 for failure to take out insurance policies on employees' compensation (labour insurance policies);
(2) of the respective numbers of (i) written warnings issued and (ii) prosecutions instituted by LD against employers defaulting on the periodical payments and the payment of medical expenses to the employees injured at work, as well as (iii) the number of such employers convicted, in each year from 2014 to 2016;
(3) of the respective numbers of compensation cases received in each year from 2013 to 2016 by LD which involved work injury accidents resulting in incapacity of employees for a period (i) exceeding and (ii) not exceeding three days;
(4) among the compensation cases received in each year from 2010 to 2016 by LD which involved work injury accidents resulting in incapacity of employees for a period exceeding three days, of (i) the respective numbers of those settled and unsettled (and reasons thereof) within one year, (ii) average waiting time for medical assessments and total amount of compensation involved, in respect of settled cases, as well as (iii) the number of working days lost;
(5) of the respective numbers of cases in which employees injured at work were referred by LD to the Legal Aid Department in each year from 2010 to 2016;
(6) whether the authorities will consider empowering LD to rule on labour disputes involving employees' work injury compensation; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(7) whether it will consider setting up a central employees' compensation fund to replace the current arrangement for employers to take out labour insurance policies with authorised insurance companies; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to the question raised by Hon Leung Yiu-chung is as follows:
(1) In 2015 and 2016, the yearly numbers of summonses heard and convicted in respect of failure to take out employees' compensation insurance under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (ECO) as processed by the Labour Department (LD) are provided below:
|Year||No. of summonses heard||No. of summonses convicted|
LD does not keep the number of employers involved in these summonses.
(2) From 2014 to 2016, the yearly numbers of summonses heard and convicted in respect of failure to pay periodical payments on time under ECO as processed by LD are provided below:
|Year||No. of summonses heard||No. of summonses convicted|
LD does not keep the number of employers involved in the above summonses convicted and the number of written warnings issued to employers for failure to pay periodical payments and medical expenses to employees under ECO. Besides, since failure to pay medical expenses is not a prosecutable offence under ECO, LD does not have the related prosecution and conviction figures.
(3) From 2013 to 2016, the yearly number of employees' compensation claims reported under ECO and received by LD is provided below:
|Duration of incapacitation||2013||2014||2015||2016|
|More than three days^||39 072||38 386||36 923||36 420|
|Not more than three days||16 096||15 531||14 994||15 134|
|Total||55 168||53 917||51 917||51 554|
(4) From 2010 to 2016, of the work injury compensation claims involving incapacitation of employees for more than three days reported under ECO and received by LD in each year, the number of claims settled in the same respective year, the amount of compensation involved and the total number of working days lost are provided below:
|No. of claims settled in the same respective year||27 063||25 537||24 909||23 740||23 054||22 538||22 156|
|Amount of compensation involved
|Total No. of working days lost||413 551||391 421||394 090||396 705||390 353||408 292||407 679|
In the above period, of the work injury compensation claims involving incapacitation of employees for more than three days reported under ECO and received by LD in each year, the number of claims which were not settled in the same respective year is provided below:
|No. of claims not settled in the same respective year||15 563||15 515||15 588||15 332||15 332||14 385||14 264|
The above claims were not settled in the same respective year owing to various reasons, such as awaiting expiry of employees' sick leave, assessment of permanent incapacity or court judgment.
If the employees sustain work injuries which result in incapacitation for more than three days and will likely result in permanent total or partial incapacity, LD will arrange the employees to attend an assessment by the Employees' Compensation Assessment Board (ECAB) after they have recovered or their medical condition is stabilised. Assessments are conducted by the relevant specialty departments (mainly the Orthopaedics and Accident and Emergency Departments) in 16 hospitals under the Hospital Authority. Employees' waiting time will be affected by the frequency of ECAB meetings convened by the specialty departments of different hospitals, which varies from once a week to once every four weeks. The average waiting time for employees who were arranged to attend medical assessments from 2010 to 2016 is provided below:
|Year||Average waiting time (in terms of weeks)*|
LD does not keep the average waiting time for medical assessments in respect of settled cases.
(5) From 2010 to 2016, of the reported work injury compensation claims involving incapacitation of employees for more than three days, the number of claims where employees sought legal aid or adjudication by the Court is provided below:
|Year||No. of claims where employees sought legal aid or adjudication by the Court
(as at the end of the reporting year of the claims)
Employees may seek legal aid or adjudication by the Court for various reasons. LD does not keep the specific number of claims where employees seek legal aid. If the work injury sick leave of an employee does not exceed three days and no permanent incapacity is involved, the employer should make direct payment of compensation to the employee in accordance with ECO. LD does not keep statistics on employees seeking legal aid in this type of cases.
(6) LD administers ECO to assist employees who sustain a work injury or suffer from a prescribed occupational disease to receive compensation in accordance with ECO promptly. In case the employer or the employee raises dispute in a work injury case, LD will scrutinise the case in detail, explain the provisions of ECO to both parties and collect comprehensive information relating to the accident, and advise both parties on the likelihood and relevance of the case being a work injury. Most of the cases in dispute are resolved with LD's assistance. For those cases which cannot be resolved, 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. At present, the Government has no plan to empower LD to adjudicate labour dispute involving employees' work injury compensation.
Since May 2016, LD has enhanced its support services 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 services facilitates communication between employers and employees, clarification of issues under dispute and timely resolution of differences so as to protect the rights and benefits of employees.
(7) The existing employees' compensation system is primarily premised on a no-fault principle and employers' liability to pay compensation under ECO. At the same time, employers must, in accordance with ECO, take out employees' compensation insurance with authorised insurance companies. This is to ensure employers' ability to pay employees injured at work or family members of the deceased employees compensation stipulated in ECO and common law compensation awarded by the Court. Given that the cost-effectiveness of a central employees' compensation fund has yet to be established and the above-mentioned mode of operation has been working well, the current system better caters for the circumstances of Hong Kong and it is not advisable to make any substantial change at present.
Ends/Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:45
Issued at HKT 12:45