Psychological ills eligible for compensation: CLA

WORK-RELATED: Employees will have to prove that they have no history of mental illness or substance abuse and get three doctors to approve the diagnosis

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Sep 30, 2009 - Page 2

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) has decided to include psychological illnesses as an occupational injury eligible for compensation, following years of appeals by labor activists.

Workers covered by the Labor Insurance Plan and who are affected by psychological illnesses, including depression, paranoia, attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia as a result of their work could benefit from the new policy, which could take effect as early as next month.

However, unlike other occupational injuries, an employee will have to obtain a diagnosis from three doctors that the psychological illness was a result of a worker’s jobs. Other occupational injuries only require certification by a single doctor.

The worker must have been employed six months prior to being diagnosed with the illness, have no family history of mental illness and no history of substance abuse. Evidence that the work performed caused strong psychological stress will also be crucial in the evaluation process.

If a person is found to have developed a mental illness as a result of his or her work, he or she will be able to collect compensation from the national labor insurance program.

Huang Hsiao-ling (黃小陵), the secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries, said although she was glad the council had finally adopted the measure, it has come “too late.”

“[The association] has been fighting for this for two or three years. There have already been too many workers who, as a result of poor working conditions, have become mentally ill,” she said.

Huang criticized the council for not adopting the policy earlier.

She was also skeptical that the approval process, which requires workers to gather proof of their claim, would benefit them, since it is difficult for workers in such disadvantaged positions to gather such evidence.

“By putting this policy in place, the council has only opened the doors,” she said.

“We don’t know if the evaluation standards will be so strict that workers would find it almost impossible to receive compensation,” she said.