The typical worker who is with TWC2’s Cuff Road Project has waited nearly six months since his workplace accident. Yet he is still some distance from the conclusion of his Work Injury Compensation (Wica) claim. Typically, this worker is still in the first of four phases: getting medical treatment or simply waiting for an assessment date. Assessment is when he will be seen by a doctor to assess the degree of residual permanent disability.

This is the picture that emerged from an analysis of 508 men who obtained a meal card from TWC2 during the first three weeks of March 2018. Of the 508 workers, 64% were in the first phase of the claim process.

10% were in the second phase: their claim had been assessed by a doctor and MOM would be considering the compensation amount to award. This subgroup had waited on average ten months since the accident.

11% were in the third phase: they had received a notification from MOM about the award, but it had not yet been finalised. Some of these awards were being disputed, which would mean further delay. Similar to the second group, this third group were on average ten months from the accident.

9% were in the fourth phase: their compensation awards had been finalised. Some of them were expecting payment any day soon, or the air ticket home. Others have had their compensation payment held up for various reasons, and were facing yet more delays. This group were on average eleven months since the accident.

In all the subgroups, there was considerable variation. While the averages were ten or eleven months for phases 2, 3 and 4, some workers in our sample had waited over 18 months.

Our study shows how prolonged waits are for injured workers. Most of them would have recovered enough to resume work well before the second phase, yet their employers had terminated their work permits. Having been put on Special Passes by MOM, they were not allowed to work. Going a whole year with no income — longer, in several cases — is disastrous for low-wage foreign workers without social and family support here.

Besides the morale-destroying wait, the financial consequences on them and their families need to be addressed. Our 12-page paper. titled “WICA waits 2018” and which can be downloaded by clicking the icon at right, provides a number of recommendations.