Two employers fined for not insuring, compensating workers

Both given total fine of $41k; they did not compensate employees for injuries even when told to do so by MOM

Two employers were fined a total of $41,000 by the State Courts last month for failing to buy work injury insurance for their workers, and for not paying compensation for their injuries when ordered to do so, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said.

Renovation firm Valiancy Enterprise was fined $20,000 after it pleaded guilty to one count of non-payment of compensation and five counts of non-insurance on Nov 7, said an MOM statement yesterday.

Suriakumar Ridgeway Ramaiah, the sole proprietor of Ridgeway Marine and Construction, was fined $21,000 after pleading guilty to the same charges on Nov 16.

Such cases of employers not compensating for workers' injuries are rare, said MOM.

"Of the approximately 30,000 work injury compensation cases processed annually, over 99.9 per cent of valid claims are settled in full," said Ms Kee Ee Wah, director of the Work Injury Compensation Department at the ministry.

Valiancy Enterprise had failed to pay a carpenter $25,000 in compensation although it was ordered to do so by MOM in October last year. Mr Phua Soon Beng had the tip of his left thumb sliced off by a wood-cutting machine in November 2015.

Investigations by MOM showed that at the time, the firm did not insure and maintain work injury compensation insurance for five employees, including Mr Phua.

RARE CASES

Of the approximately 30,000 work injury compensation cases processed annually, over 99.9 per cent of valid claims are settled in full.

MS KEE EE WAH, director of the Work Injury Compensation Department at the ministry.

Besides the $20,000 fine, Valiancy has been barred from applying for and renewing work permits for six months. The firm has since paid the $25,000 to Mr Phua.

In the case of Ridgeway Marine and Construction, Suriakumar paid only $2,480 of the $11,625 he was supposed to give a marine trades worker by a stipulated deadline, after an order was issued on Sept 28 last year.

The Bangladeshi worker, Mr Sujan Ahmed Late Ali Ahmed, had injured his right elbow and back after falling from a ladder at work in May 2015.

Suriakumar had not bought insurance for 11 employees, including Mr Sujan, at the time of the accident.

Suriakumar was fined $21,000 and barred from applying for and renewing work permits for six months. He was also sentenced to 120 days in jail as he had defaulted on the fine and worker compensation.

Mr Sujan will receive an ex gratia payment from the Workers' Fund run by MOM for his work injury claim.

Ms Kee said employers are required by law to purchase work injury compensation insurance and have to pay compensation to workers who are injured at work.

She added that the ministry will take enforcement action against employers who do not insure workers and maintain such insurance.

Under the Work Injury Compensation Act, employers convicted of the non-payment of work injury compensation within the stipulated timeline, or of failure to insure and maintain insurance, may be liable to a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 12 months' jail, or both.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2017, with the headline 'Two employers fined for not insuring, compensating workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe