Compensation for employees’ accidents within the highlight

From Banele Ginindza before 17h

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COMPENSATION for accidents at work is in the spotlight after a hasty amendment to the Law Amending the Law on Compensation for Occupational Diseases and Injuries, which provides for a slowdown in the Dysfunctional Compensation Fund, drew the wrath of activists, professional and civic organizations.

The fund affects farm workers, fishermen, construction workers, security guards, nurses, paramedics, factory workers and kitchen workers, among others.

Last year the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labor heard how Clause 43, if promulgated, would effect the collateral assignment of medical bills by medical service providers to financial institutions or third party administrators.

The excitement is that the Settlement Fund is consistently unable to cope with the 1,000 or so accidents in the workplace every day, leaving it with a backlog of more than 150,000 cases from years citing IT malfunctions.

Workers who wait unduly long for compensation fear there is nowhere to go as medical care providers insist on cash for treatment to avoid the obligation to pile up one by one to block the compensation funds’ overburdened claims system.

In 2019, the Settlement Fund replaced its system with a new Sap-based system called Compeasy (S4i) priced at R300 million.

Serious concerns about the situation last year led to the establishment of an emergency committee of concerned industry leaders, The Injured Workers

Action group (Iwag) urging the government to deal with the crisis quickly.

It said third party pre-financing would remove the possibility for fraud, clean up claims and help the Settlement Fund be efficient.

“Workers will be forced to turn to public health facilities, delay treatment and, if at all, return to work weeks or months later. This is a human price and an immense price for our fragile economy, ”said Iwag spokesman Tim Hughes.

Iwag said the auditor-general has only issued a indemnity fund disclaimer in 10 years, which means he has not submitted his financial data.

“This means that no one knows the exact financial status of the fund, only what the fund explains in its annual report. In the past few weeks, when both Scopa and the Working Committee investigate the Settlement Fund, it has become very clear that its systems are inadequate, its people do not have the right skills and there is a serious lack of consequence management, ”said Hughes.

Compensation Commissioner Vuyo Mafata, speaking before the committee recently, said improving her audit results will be one of the top strategic focus areas and she has committed to addressing issues affecting audit results by 75 percent this fiscal year to reduce.

The aim was to receive an unqualified auditor’s report by 2024.

When asked by the Portfolio Committee about the new computer system, Mafata said R128m had been spent on developing and configuring the system. A service provider was commissioned to provide daily support and regular maintenance of the system. He said the fund paid R51 million over the past 17 months to use the system.

Projected sales for 2021/22 were ZAR 19.3 billion and rose to ZAR 22 billion in 2023/24. Projected spending for 2021/22 was ZAR 13.7 billion, increasing to ZAR 14.4 billion in 2023/24

United Domestic Workers of South Africa Union President Pinky Mashiane said if the government ended the functioning areas of the fund it would effectively undermine the level of care domestic workers were promised and take away the real benefits of being a beneficiary said Mashiane.

“This is why we are against the inclusion of Section 43 of the Amending Act,” she said.

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