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Legal Update

Employers Now Liable For Chinese Medical Expenses Of Injured Employees

23 October 2006
Mayer Brown JSM Legal Update


Recent amendments to the Employees' Compensation Ordinance now give recognition to medical treatment, examination and certification given by registered Chinese medicine practitioners.

Full Update

The Certification for Employee Benefits (Chinese Medicine) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2006 (the "Ordinance") was passed on 6 July 2006. The Ordinance contains a number of amendments aimed at giving recognition to certificates given by, and medical examinations and treatment conducted or given by, a registered Chinese medicine practitioner for the purposes of entitlement to employee benefits under various Ordinances, including the Employees' Compensation Ordinance ("ECO").

Relevant to those involved in Employees' Compensation cases, the changes to the ECO means that medical certificates issued by a registered Chinese medicine practitioner in respect of a period of absence from duty being necessary for employees injured on duty will now be recognised.

Amendments to Section 10A of the ECO also mean that medical expenses payable by an employer now include the costs of "prescribed medicines" for the direct treatment of the injury, which includes Chinese herbal medicines or proprietary Chinese medicines prescribed by a registered Chinese medicine practitioner (although there are conditions with regard to the costs of consuming such medicine). It is important to note that costs incurred for consuming tonic food for maintenance of general health is expressly excluded.

With the changes to Section 16 of the ECO, an employer can now require an employee who is in receipt of a periodical payment to undergo a medical examination by a registered medical practitioner, a registered dentist or registered Chinese medicine practitioner. However it is noteworthy that the employee who has attended such medical examination has a right under subsection (1A) to request for a copy of the medical report from the employer free of charge. Employers should now bear in mind this new section, when requiring an employee to submit to a medical examination pursuant to Section 16 of ECO. 

Although the Ordinance has been passed, the part which concerns the amendments to the ECO has yet to come into operation. Furthermore, the amendments to the ECO do not apply to claims for compensation or other rights, obligation or liabilities in respect of accidents happening before the commencement of the Ordinance.  For those accidents that occur before the amendments come into effect, the old provisions under the ECO will still apply.

Related Link

Government Recognises Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioners For Employee's Entitlements (27 Nov 2006) 

For further information, please contact:

Name: Angela S. Y. Yim
Position: Partner
Phone: +852 2843 4503
Fax: +852 2103 5162

Name: Tow Lu Lim
Position: Senior Associate
Phone: +852 2843 4490
Fax: +852 2103 5997

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