COIDA – ARE YOU COMPLIANT WITH THE LAW?
COIDA – Health and Safety is a crucial part of any business. No matter what type of business you are operating, the reality is that people can get injured while at work. An office worker can trip and fall down the stairs, a factory worker can lose a leg while operating a machine. A driver can get injured in an accident while performing official duties. The possibility of injury is everywhere.
Injuries can become very expensive for employers, thus an ‘insurance fund’, called the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COID), was created to assist workers. It is governed by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA).
OUR SAFETY RECORD IS VERY GOOD, WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT THE COIDA?
There are two reasons everyone who employs anyone should care about the COIDA. Firstly, it is not only about injury – it covers occupational disease as well. Secondly, well, it is the law. The COIDA applies to all employers, casual and full-time workers, who, because of a workplace accident or work-related disease are injured, disabled, or killed, or become ill.
At this moment, the following people are excluded from the Act:
- Workers who are totally or partially disabled for less than 3 days;
- Domestic workers employed in a private household; although promises have been made to include them at some stage.
- Anyone receiving military training;
- Members of –
- the South African National Defense Force, or
- the South African Police Service;
- Any worker guilty of wilful misconduct, unless they are seriously disabled or killed;
- Anyone employed outside the RSA for 12 or more continuous months; and
- Workers working mainly outside the RSA and only temporarily employed in the RSA.
So, unless your employees fall within the exclusions above, you need to comply to the Act.
OK, BUT HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Cost will differ depending on your company size. Your Company’s total estimated wage and salary expenses for the year (according to financial years) will be used to calculate the amount payable to the Compensation Fund.
They work out your fee as a percentage of your yearly total wage and salary expenses. This means you must submit your wage and salary expenses (in a Return of Earnings document) every year. Note, if you have a lot of injuries on duty, this will also be considered when they calculate your next fee.
NOPE, IT COSTS TOO MUCH, I WILL UTILISE SICK LEAVE TO COMPENSATE
Think you can just use sick leave to compensate a worker who has injured him or herself at work? Think again. Sick leave may not be used to compensate workers for occupational injuries or illness. The only time when you may consider using sick leave as compensation, is when a worker is booked off for three days or less.
HOW DO I GO ABOUT JOINING THE COID?
You need to register your business with the COID (dept of Labour). During the process, you will have to pay a registration fee. Registration can take quite some time, so be proactive.
Thereafter you must submit your Company’s total estimated wage and salary expenses for the year via a Return of Earning document. The Department of Labour will then send you a Notice of Assessment (NOA) stating the amount payable to the COID.
After you’ve paid that amount, you’ll receive a Letter of Good Standing proving your employees are covered for a year. This Letter of Good Standing is your proof that you are covered for any OHS eventuality. You will need it if you want to do business with large corporate companies or the State.
WHAT CAN I CLAIM FOR?
Employees who suffered injury or illness can claim from the Fund. All the medical expenses of a worker will be paid for up to two years, from the date of the accident or the diagnosis of the disease. Their relatives can also claim in the case of death.
In terms of compensation, when the employee is booked off due to an accident or occupational disease for 4 days or longer, but less than 3 months, the employer must pay the injured employee at a rate of at least 75% of his earnings, from the first day, until the employee returns to work. The employer can claim this back from the Fund.
Once the first 3-month period expires, the injured employee must claim compensation directly from the Compensation Fund.
HOW DO I CLAIM?
These days, you can electronically submit claims to the Dept of Labour. The system is called “Umehluko” and it is an Electronic Integrated Claims Management System. It can be used by employers, medical service providers or representatives and has been designed to capture information relating to occupational injuries, diseases and fatalities.
WILL CLAIMS ALWAYS BE HONOURED?
The payment of the claim remains the prerogative of the Fund. In general, claims will not be paid in the following cases:
- If the claim is submitted more than 12 months after the accident or death of the employee, or more than 12 months after the occupational disease is diagnosed.
- If the employee is off work for 3 days or less. Sick leave may be used in this case.
- If the accident was caused due to serious and wilful misconduct of the employee. However, compensation will be paid if the accident results in the serious disablement or death of the employee.
- If the employee unreasonably refuses to have medical treatment.
Employers are compelled by law to register and contribute to the COID. The Fund is there for the benefit of both employee and employer. It provides free medical care and some compensation for injured employees, and at the same time it serves as ‘insurance fund’ for employers. It is indeed a win-win situation.