When dealing with work-related accidents, there still seems to be a lot of uncertainty relating to the correct reporting and recording procedures of work-related injuries. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, Act 130 of 1993 (as amended) “COIDA” is the governing Act in South Africa that deals with occupational injuries and diseases.
Any employer with one or more employees must register with the Compensation Fund and pay annual assessment fees. Employees do not contribute to the Fund, so employers cannot deduct money from employees’ wages/salary for this.
In terms of s35(1) of the Act, an employee who suffers an occupational injury has no action for damages against his or her employer. The Act absolves an Employer from delictual liability for all damages. An occupational injury is one that arises from and in the course of an employee’s employment, resulting in personal injury, illness or death of that employee.
What types of compensation are payable?
- Temporary disability of 3 months or more, where the employee eventually recovers.
- Permanent disability where the employee never fully recovers.
- Salary during the period the employee is unable to work.
- Medical expenses.
- Death benefits.
All reasonable medical expenses incurred by or on behalf of an employee in respect of medical treatment necessitated is defrayed by the Compensation Commissioner, provided the accident was reported by the employer in the prescribed manner.
The following persons cannot claim compensation from the Fund:
- members of the South African National Defence Force and South African Police Services (they have their own Fund).
- Independent Contractors.
- Employees who work outside South Africa for longer than 12 months at a time, unless there is a special agreement with the Commissioner.
The employee must report the injury, in writing, to his/her employer as soon as possible from the date the injury occurred. The employer is obligated to report the accident to the Compensation Commission within 7 days for an injury. Failure to do the same is an offence and may lead to a penalty being imposed on the employer.
According to Section 22(2) of the Act, no periodical payments shall be made in respect of temporary total disablement or temporary partial disablement which lasts for 3 days or less. This means that the Compensation Fund will not make a compensation payment to an employee that has been off due to an injury on duty for 3 days or less.
In the event of the employee being booked off due to an injury on duty, for a period of 4 days or more, but less than 3 months, the employer must make payment to the employee at a rate of at least 75% of his earnings, from the first day until the worker comes back to work. After the 3-month period is over, the injured employee must then claim his money from the Compensation Fund. Payments made by the employer to the employee during the 3 months will be reimbursed by the Compensation Commissioner.
Previously domestic workers were excluded from claiming from the Compensation Fund however recently in Mahlangu v The Minister of Labour, the Gauteng High Court ruled that domestic workers should be able to claim money for workplace injuries from the compensation. The department is currently engaged in a legislative process to amend COIDA. Therefore the order of the High Court is a declarator and suspended for a period of time to allow the department an opportunity to conclude the process of amending the legislation.
Article by: Joan Ngoepe
Dispute Resolution Official – Polokwane