Motion on “Employees’ Compensation (Amendment) Bill 2021” (2021.04.28)

MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): Deputy President, I support the Employees’ Compensation (Amendment) Bill 2021 (“the Bill”). The Bill mainly seeks to extend protection to employees travelling to or from their places of work under extreme conditions, thus affording protection to the relevant employees on par with that under Typhoon Warning Signal No. 8 or above or when the Red or Black Rainstorm Warning is in force.

The Bill has been discussed by the Labour Advisory Board and received support from both employees and employers. It provides further protection to employees and the insurance industry has no objection to it. However, during the scrutiny by the Bills Committee, some Members from the business sector were concerned that the Bill would lead to an increase in labour insurance premiums. As a matter of fact, the insurance industry is also very concerned about the issue of insurance premiums given the huge losses that have been accumulated in labour insurance. The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers has said that the competition law restricts it from providing information on the impact of the Bill on premiums and claims while according to the Government, the impact should be minimal. I also believe that the impact will not be significant because extreme weather conditions, such as super typhoons or large-scale natural disasters, do not come about frequently after all. It is anticipated that it may not exert pressure on premiums.

Why are we so concerned about labour insurance premiums? It is because labour insurance has already accumulated huge losses in recent years. According to the data compiled by the Research Office of the Legislative Council Secretariat, labour insurance suffered a cumulative loss of nearly $3.2 billion from 2011 to 2019, averaging at $355 million each year. Although the situation improved in 2020, it did not make any substantial difference on the whole. In fact, labour insurance fraud is quite rampant in Hong Kong and it is the major reason for the heavy losses in labour insurance. Therefore, the Government has to plug the loopholes in labour insurance by, specifically, combating insurance fraud. If it can combat insurance fraud successfully, premiums will naturally reduce, which will help ease the burden on employers. It will also facilitate the Government’s consideration of providing further protection for employees, thus killing two birds with one stone. I hope the Government will take immediate actions.

Thank you, Deputy President.

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