In the second of four policy briefs for 2018, Transient Workers Count Too recommends that healthcare providers should have a duty to report to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) when a migrant worker is issued more than three days medical leave or is hospitalised for 24 hours or longer. This should be in addition to the employer’s responsibility to do the same. For convenience, the proposal is referred to as “dual reporting”.

There are indications that workplace injuries are under-reported. This compromises our workplace safety statistics, and raises questions as to whether workers’ medical needs are appropriately addressed. The latter is important to ensure that employees return to work as early as possible, thus enhancing productivity.

The policy brief argues that:

Accurate statistics are important for policy makers to understand the incidence and causes of accidents, and to ensure preventive measures are in place.

Currently only employers are duty-bound to make such incident reports. But, as the policy brief argues:

In practice, employers face disincentives to report workplace injuries due to concerns about jeopardizing the company’s safety record, which might result in the company being asked to stop work. The stop-work penalty is intended to encourage safe workplace practices but becomes an obstacle to obtaining accurate information on workplace safety and implementing corrective action.

Employers may also hope that by not reporting reporting an injury, they can have better control over medical costs, e.g. through active denial of medical care.

While the current system allows workers themselves to make incident reports,

Workers report that they are discouraged from reporting their injuries by employers’ threats of job loss, repatriation, or retaliation.

Given the weaknesses of the existing system, making it mandatory for healthcare providers to report is the way to go. This would be in line with the International Labour Organization’s best practices for national injury reporting systems.

The two-page policy brief (in pdf) can be downloaded by clicking the icon at right.