Move to insure domestic workers in SA
IF YOU hire the services of a domestic worker, you may soon be required to contribute to the Department of Labour’s Compensation Fund.
This is so domestic workers can receive compensation for work-related injuries.
The Department of Labour hosted a public hearing in Durban this week, discussing proposed changes to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Bill.
The changes will end years of discrimination against domestic workers, as they were not considered “employees”, and could not receive benefits. If the amendments are adopted, employers of domestic workers must register their employees.
The department’s inspectors will conduct risk profiles of employers’ homes, and an assessment rate or premium will be charged and paid by employers for the service.
The payment periods are still under consideration by the department public hearings continue.
Another amendment the department is pushing for is the introduction of rehabilitation and reintegration programmes so that injured employees will be assisted physically and psychologically to return to work.
If these changes are effected, it will give Zinhle Mchunu a chance to return to work.
Mchunu, a domestic worker in Durban, was set alight, allegedly by her employer’s son earlier this year.
The attempted murder case against Dustin Govender is ongoing, but Mchunu has not been able to return to work seven months later.
She feels pain in her leg which had severe burns, and can’t walk.
“I’m also scared to go back to any work. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said.
Mchunu said she was only paid by her employer for two months of work following the incident.
Chief director of corporate services for the department’s Compensation as Fund, Ntombekhaya Qamata, said the rights of domestic workers had been ignored since the bill came into being at the end of apartheid.
“We have learnt over the past 21 years that injuries in the domestic sector have not been reported anywhere and they have not been compensated in any form,” she said.
Qamata confirmed that even in cases where domestic workers were employed for a few days a week, they would still receive compensation.
“The fact that you are giving them a salary and they are rendering a service means they are part of the act as an employee,” she said.
Happy Ndovela, who heads a domestic workers’ club in Durban, called on workers to join groups and unions to have their voices heard.
“Every worker in South Africa is entitled to compensation, but when it comes to domestic workers, we are the lowest and the last.
“We need to make sure that the government can find us by joining groups and unions,” she said.
THE Department of Labour is proposing bill amendments so that domestic workers can receive compensation for work-related injuries.