A letter by TWC2 exco member Debbie Fordyce was published in the Straits Times 25 October 2012. She highlights the quite common problem of the government creating a bias against workers in favour of employers.
Straits Times, 25 October 2012, Print Forum
Foreign workers’ medical dilemma
Foreign workers often find themselves in a Catch-22 situation when it comes to payment for medical treatment.
The employer is liable for medical expenses of up to $25,000, or $30,000 if the accident occurred after June 1 this year, for injuries suffered in the course of employment.
Problems crop up when secondary issues arise from the initial accident.
A Bangladeshi worker now faces such a problem. He experienced an electrical shock from the water jet he was using to wash the outside of a building.
He fell from the ladder and suffered a burst fracture of a lumbar vertebra.
In hospital, the vertebra was stabilised with internal metal supports.
Recovering from the back injury, he found himself incontinent after the accident, which he assumed to be due to the electric shock.
The doctor at Singapore General Hospital suggested a series of tests to diagnose and treat the problem but, without the test results, could not say for certain that it arose from the accident.
The employer refused to pay for the tests without the doctor’s confirmation that the problem was related to the accident.
The worker does not have the money to pay the hospital, which will not proceed with testing before receiving payment.
It is a difficult situation for such workers, who are unable to pay out of pocket for medical treatments.
Even though an accident is assumed to have arisen in the course of employment, unless there is evidence to prove otherwise, the employer and the Ministry of Manpower still demand positive proof, which will not be forthcoming without money paid in advance to proceed.
Deborah Desloge Fordyce (Ms)
Transient Workers Count Too