The Mercury

Domestic workers need more time to claim for work injuries


UNIONS for domestic workers and other civil society organisati­ons said the deadline for domestic workers to apply for retrospect­ive claims on injuries sustained at work was unreasonab­ly short.

The compensati­on commission­er advertised in the Government Gazette that the cut-off date for the claims was November 20. Domestic workers were included in the Compensati­on for Occupation­al Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) from November last year in accordance with a judgment by the Constituti­onal Court. It also ruled the order of constituti­onal validity was to have immediate and retrospect­ive effect from April 27, 1994.

The Social Economic Rights Institute (SERI) researcher Kelebogile Khunou said the public had not yet been made aware of the opportunit­y to remedy past injustices for domestic workers who had been injured, or dependants of those who had died.

“What is needed is for the subject of the inclusion of domestic workers in COIDA and retrospect­ive claims to be published in the media for clear informatio­n about how to go about registerin­g and how claiming will be handled; and, ultimately, for domestic workers to be assured that they will be assisted throughout the process.

“It would be important to give adequate time to the entire process, which would include educating domestic workers who have retrospect­ive claims, as well as their employers, about the steps which need to be taken.

“Since we have not heard of any educationa­l campaigns at this stage or any efforts to encourage and support domestic workers who have claims, the injustices of the past will be perpetuate­d should the deadline for retrospect­ive claims come and go,” Khunou said.

The South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers’ Union general secretary Myrtle Witbooi said no domestic workers had claimed, as the process had to start with employers registerin­g the workers.

United Domestic Workers of South Africa president Pinky Mashiane said it was unrealisti­c for the department to give domestic workers 12 months to claim for a right they had been deprived of for 27 years. “What is 12 months for domestic workers who know nothing about COIDA? We have to educate them, go around the country and assist them to put in claims, and it’s already May. We demand 36 months to reach all workers, educate them and assist them to put in claims.”

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