Singapore’s Work Injury Compensation Act: an indirect right to social security during a pandemic?

Singapore’s social security system is often lauded as a veritable alternative to the Western-style welfare state. Described as a “trampoline”, the system prizes self-reliance while intervening to enhance social mobility and maximise opportunities for the willing. Against this backdrop, the Work Injury Compensation Act (“WICA”) is a unique piece of legislation that quietly furthers socioeconomic rights and social welfare for workers. Through WICA, employees may lodge compensation claims for injuries suffered at work through a fast and simple procedure without having to prove fault on the employer’s part or commence a claim in tort.

I consider how WICA will evolve in application following the Covid-19 pandemic: How will Covid-19 impact the scope of compensation provided under WICA? Will a claim arising from an accident occurring while an employee was working from home qualify? What are the wider constitutional implications of these questions on equality and access to justice?