Move to in­sure do­mes­tic work­ers in SA

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - African News Agency (ANA) KARINDA JAGMOHAN [email protected]

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.

| SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI

THE Depart­ment of Labour is propos­ing bill amend­ments so that do­mes­tic work­ers can re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion for work-re­lated in­juries.

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