Lawmaker deems improving workplace injury compensation needed

Lawmaker Ella Lei is seeking, in her latest written inquiry, reviews on laws concerning workplace accidents and occupational diseases to expand protection for laborers.

The lawmaker said current laws were promulgated during the 1980s and 90s but have not seen any major amendment or overhaul since then. The only amendments made are to the upper and lower limits of payable compensation. Nothing has been done about overall policies, the mechanism and procedure for compensation, as well as enhancing support for victims, she said.

She also noted that the Decree-law concerns the concept and identification of work-related accidents, treatment costs, payment during downtime, compensation for disability or death, and support for victims, making it critical for victimized employees.

“Some of the provisions have become dated and unsuitable for the current society,” Lei commented, citing real-life examples, such as conflicts between doctors’ and insurance companies’ understandings of necessary injury leave.

As such, the lawmaker questioned the government, except for previously disclosed regular meetings between competent bureaus and private sectors, as to what additional work the government has planned to do in refining the compensation framework.

On the other hand, she asked how the government would plan to refine the mechanism so as to align insurance companies’ opinions with medical advice. She also asked if there is necessity to review the list of work-related injuries.

Economic support is still a concern for Ron Lam

In a separate inquiry, lawmaker Ron Lam raised questions regarding economic revivals, tourism development, employment support and consumption subsidies.

The lawmaker said the city saw a rebound of tourism during the first two months of the year, such as a rise in tourist arrival figures and hotel occupancy rates. However, local employment data has not dropped as obviously as the tourism data has risen.

Lam noted the local workforce’s unemployment rate was still high at 4.3% in the period between November 2022 and January. It nearly doubled the figure from the pre-Covid period. The underemployment rate, on the other hand, was 3.2% for the aforementioned period, which was eight times the pre-Covid figure.

He further said that among the unemployed people looking for new jobs, most were engaged in the gaming and gaming junket industry and construction industry before this uptick in unemployment.

“How to help gaming practitioners reasonably transfer to industries and positions that are sufficient to maintain their expenditure and solve structural problems is a situation that the government must face,” Lam emphasized.

He also disclosed that some local construction workers reportedly could not find jobs, which were occupied by non-local laborers. He criticized, if the reports were true, that the government’s aim to boost employment with skill refinement had become empty talk.

Therefore, he asked the government how it would ensure additionally trained laborers would be matched with vacancies on corresponding levels, so as to ensure reasonable use of public resources, as some trained laborers were told to accept jobs at the most foundational levels.

Furthermore, he asked the government how it would help drive tourists to support traditional districts and whether it would consider issuing another round of consumption subsidy to support those still unemployed.

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