The Compensation Fund provides cash for employees who get hurt at work. Or sick from diseases contracted at work. Or, in the worst case scenario, if there is a death as a result of these injuries or diseases.
CJN’s Paralegal Journalist, Masesi Matseba, from the Mafefe Legal Advice Office in Limpopo, had a studio discussion on GLFM (89.8) on the topic of labour. She focussed specifically on the Compensation Fund which is covered by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Act.
There were critical details about the compensation fund that Matseba pointed out to listeners.
The first being that employees can claim compensation, if they are injured in an accident while they are doing their work or if they get a disease caused by the work which is called an occupational disease. When an employee dies from the accident or disease, their dependants can claim from the compensation fund. Compensation is paid for temporary and permanent disabilities that lead to a loss of earnings.
However, Matseba noted that some employees cannot claim from the fund because they have their own fund linked to their work, these include members of the South African National Defence Force and South African Police Services.
Some employees may want to sue their employers when they get injured but the fund covers employers in that respect and pays out to the employers to reduce lawsuits. If the employer caused injury to an employee while they were not on the job or there are severe issues of negligence then the employee could sue.
The contributions to the fund are made by the employer once a month. Employees do not pay anything to the Fund therefore employers cannot deduct money from salaries for this fund.
The Compensation Fund does not pay for pain and suffering, only for loss of movement or use of your body.
There are four main types of compensation payments:
- Temporary disability (the employee eventually recovers from the injury or illness)
- Permanent disability (the employee never fully recovers)
- Medical expenses
- Additional compensation
It’s important to note that the fund does not pay for claims made more than 12 months after the accident or death, or more than 12 months after the disease is diagnosed. They also do not pay if the employee’s own misconduct caused the accident unless the employee was seriously disabled or died from the accident.
A permanent disability is an injury or illness that you will never recover from, for example, losing an eye or arm The seriousness of the disability is rated from 100% to 1% and a doctor must write a report about the disability. For example, a 100% would be the loss of both your hands or the loss of your sight. The loss of your small toe is a 1% disability
Compensation for permanent disability is paid either as a monthly pension or as a lump sum.
If the breadwinner in the family is killed by an occupational injury or disease, the spouse or dependents can claim from the fund . Children under the age of 18, including adopted and step-children, are entitled to that compensation. If there is no spouse or children, other dependents, like parents or siblings, will be paid compensation.
Additional compensation is afforded to the employee if the injury, death or occupational disease was caused by the negligence of the employer, or a defect in machinery or equipment. Additional compensation is also paid out to employees under 26 years of age at the time of the injury or disease.