PLC Paper No. LS 34
Paper for the House Committee Meeting of the
Provisional Legislative Council
on 17 October 1997
Legal Service Division Report on Occupational Deafness (Compensation) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997
Objects of the Bill
To amend the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 469) ("the Ordinance") so as to -
Provisional LegCo Brief Reference
- repeal the scale of permanent incapacity enacted by the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (99 of 1997) ("the Amendment Ordinance") on 30 June 1997 and substitute it by a scale which covers hearing loss of 40dB to 90dB and above;
- implement measures proposed after a review by the Administration of the Ordinance as amended by the Amendment Ordinance.
2.EMB CR 8/3231/97 III of 14 October 1997 issued by the Education and Manpower Bureau.
Date of First Reading
3.15 October 1997.
4.The Amendment Ordinance made 2 amendments :
- the minimum deafness threshold was reduced from 50dB to 40dB; and
- the scale of permanent incapacity was adjusted upwards.
5.The Bill does not seek to amend the minimum deafness threshold of 40dB but seeks to amend Schedule 4 of the Ordinance by providing for a percentage scale of permanent incapacity which is substantially the same as the scale before 30 June 1997 but takes into account of the reduced minimum deafness threshold of 40dB. The effect is that people who suffer hearing loss of between 40dB to 90dB or above would receive less compensation under the Bill than the Amendment Ordinance.
6.The Bill also proposes a series of amendments including -
- amending the definition of "noise-induced deafness' such that hearing loss will not be assessed solely by pure-tone audiometry;
- repealing provisions requiring claimants to pay for costs of hearing tests and medical examinations; and
- adding 8 noisy occupations to the existing list of 17 specified noisy occupations for which compensation is payable.
A summary of the Administration's proposals is at Annex E to the Information Paper dated 30 September 1997 prepared by the Education and Manpower Bureau for the Panel on Manpower of the PLC. An extract of the Information Paper is at Appendix I.
7.Transitional arrangements are provided in the Bill such that :
- those persons who would otherwise be qualified for compensation but for their leaving employment for more than 12 months will be allowed to apply for compensation within 12 months from the commencement of clauses 1 to 20 of the Bill (Clauses 1 to 20 of the Bill will come into operation on the day the Bill as enacted by the PLC is published in the Gazette as an Ordinance);
- claimants who have incurred expenses in undergoing a hearing test or medical examination before the commencement of clauses 1 to 20 of the Bill may apply for reimbursement under section 31 of the Ordinance (Despite the proposed repeal of section 31, it will continue to apply to these claimants.); and
- claimants who have applied for compensation and whose percentage of permanent incapacity has not been determined by the Occupational Deafness Compensation Board before the commencement of clauses 1 to 20 of the Bill will be entitled to the higher rate of compensation in accordance with the existing scale of permanent incapacity as enacted by the Amendment Ordinance.
8.By way of consequential amendment, the Bill increases the rate of levy on employees' compensation insurance premium by 0.8% from 3.5% to 4.3%. The proportion of net resources of the Employees' Compensation Insurance Levies Management Board under the Employees' Compensation Insurance Levies Ordinance (Cap. 411) distributed to the Occupational Deafness Compensation Board will also be increased. Both will take effect on 1 January 1998 by virtue of clauses 1(3), 21 and 22 of the Bill.
9.A deputation from the Hong Kong Occupational Deafness Association has expressed its views on the Occupational Deafness Compensation Scheme with PLC Duty Roster Members on 4 September 1997. Minutes of the DRM Interview is at Appendix II . Written submissions from that Association and the Administration's comments thereon have subsequently been circulated to members of the PLC Panel on Manpower.
10.The Administration has consulted the Occupational Deafness Compensation Board and the Labour Advisory Board who have endorsed the proposals in the Bill. The PLC Panel on Manpower has received a briefing on 30 September 1997.
11.The Bill proposes various policy changes which merit detailed consideration by a Bills Committee.
Wong Sze-man, Bernice
Assistant Legal Adviser
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
15 October 1997