On 23 March a new directive was released by the government on the compensation of workers who would contract the Corona Virus in their line of duty. This directive declared the Corona Virus to be an occupational disease if an employee contracts it or it arises, in the course of their work and can now claimin terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (“COIDA”).
You are considered to have contracted the disease if you can prove that in your workplace you had exposures to confirmed cases of Covid-19 or if you have travelled, for work, to high-risk countries and may have contracted the disease that way.
Claims and other forms of relief benefit claims
- Employees can claim their sick-leave benefits should they get COVID-19 as per the normal course in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment and retrenched employees can claim from the Unemployment Indemnity Fund (“UIF”).
- There are directives that have also been issued in terms of which the COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (COVID-19 TERS) has been developed to assist employees who become ill in the workplace as a result of COVID-19, to claim relief benefits.
- The available benefits for employees who contracted the COVID-19 at work include temporary total disablement benefits if it does not exceed 30 days and permanent disability where an assessment has been made by the Compensation Fund, medical assistance for a period of no more than 30 days where an employee has tested positive for Covid-19 and certain death benefits.
How to lodge a claim
- An incident must be reported either verbally or in writing to the employer immediately. The employer will then follow the process of completing and submitting the required forms to the COIDA Compensation Fund and TERS in respect of illness benefits.
- The employer may be able to claim for temporary or permanent disability, depending on how the employee was infected but chronological proof will be required that the employee developed symptoms following work exposure.
- The standard rules of claiming in terms of COIDA requirements will apply;
- The claim must be made within 12 months from date of diagnosis;
- The employee must be off sick for more than three days, if not, such an employee is entitled to standard sick leave benefits.
- In a situation where an employee is quarantined according to stipulated guidelines is suspected to have Covid-19 or where it cannot otherwise be confirmed, the employer would then be liable to pay the employee their salary during this period in accordance with sick leave benefits.
Categories of Occupational Risk
This is measured in terms of exposure to known/suspected sources of Covid-19
- Jobs with a very high potential exposure
- eg. medical, postmortem, laboratory procedures
- Jobs with high potential exposure
- eg. healthcare delivery and support staff, medical transport workers, mortuary workers.
- Workplaces with high public contact
- eg. schools, consulting rooms
- These are those jobs that do not require contact with people known / suspected of being infected with Covid-19
- Not in frequent close contact with public
How can we help
- We can ensure that your company has followed the correct processes
- We can compile the relevant documentation for submission
- We can assist with the submission
- We can communicate with your employees around the process
- We can advise how to handle interim medical costs that the employee may have which are not covered by their medical aid
The information shared on this article/blog/vlog should be read and understood within the current legal framework of South Africa. It is meant purely for educational discussion and does not amount to legal advice. For specific legal advice, please consult a legal practitioner prior to application.