A new ruling by the Compensation Fund stipulates that it will now pay for rehabilitation, reintegration and return-to-work programmes for domestic workers who are injured or disabled while on duty
The ruling, gazetted on 11 March 2021, states that domestic workers can claim compensation for injuries or illness sustained while working. The benefits under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) include disability cover and medical benefits, going as far as providing cover to dependants if the injury or illness should result in the death of the worker.
In November 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled that domestic workers are to be considered employees. This decision came after the daughter of a domestic worker approached the Department of Labour for compensation for the death of her mother, who drowned in her employers’ swimming pool.
The main benefits covered are temporary total disablement, permanent disablement lump sums and permanent disability pensions. The type and extent of the injury or disability determine the benefits and compensation limits. The Fund will also cover what it deems reasonable medical expenses for injuries on duty, as well as chronic medications needed after an on-the-job incident. Furthermore, it will pay for assistive devices such as wheelchairs and prosthetics.
Workers or their dependants can lodge claims for compensation for work-related injuries or death retrospectively. Pensions for surviving spouses and children are also payable.
This is good news not only for domestic workers and their families, but also for medical service providers who can now offer treatment to these patients. However creating awareness of this new ruling and its requirements within the domestic work sector will in all likelihood take some time and the onus is on employers of domestic workers to register their employees under the COID Act.