Concern about ’catastrophic consequences’ of changes to domestic worker compensation fund

29 January 2021 by Francesca Villette

Cape Town – Removing the third-party assistance from injury claims for domestic workers will have “catastrophic” consequences for families.

This was the reaction of interest groups to the proposed Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (Coida) Amendment Bill.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour last week issued a public call for submissions on the proposed Coida Amendment Bill, with amendments through the addition of sub-section 43 (4).

The amendments will mean medical service providers, like doctors and nurses, will not be able to cede their invoices to financial institutions or third-party administrators for early payment or access to overdrafts.

It further means the providers will no longer be pre-funded by administrators and will, if section 43 is promulgated, have to wait up to two years for their medical accounts to be settled by the Compensation Fund, impacting cash flow and working capital.

President of the United Domestic Workers of South Africa Union, Pinky Mashiane, said domestic workers had fought for many years for the right to access quality medical care under the Compensation Fund.

She added that while they were pleased that the government was introducing legislation that would make it a reality for the vulnerable and often overlooked sector, they needed the assistance of a third party to help oversee their claims from start to finish.

“As domestic workers, we are concerned that it is going to turn into a long procedure for us to claim. Domestic workers cannot claim for themselves.

“It took us eight years to get justice for Mariam Mhlangu, the domestic worker who drowned in a swimming pool.

’’How long will it take a domestic worker who is injured on duty (to get compensation)? I’m talking from experience,” Mashiane said.

“We need a third party to assist us in this. We cannot do it on our own. Domestic workers must be treated with dignity.”

Dr Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of the SA Medical Association (Sama), said without third-party administrators, medical service providers would need to carve out hours in their days in an attempt to submit claims on a system that “just doesn’t work”.

Sama believes that the amendment should be removed from the bill.

The Injured Workers’ Action Group (IWAG) said it was “incomprehensible” that the Department of Employment and Labour would seek to remove a key part of the fund’s value chain that was actually working.

IWAG spokesperson Tim Hughes said: “We cannot see any justification for the introduction of Section 43. Neither the minister nor the Department of Employment and Labour, much less the Compensation Fund, have provided any reasonable rationale for the amendment.

“Given that medical service providers, who treat injured on-duty patients in good faith, will not be able to cede their invoices to financial institutions or third-party administrators for early payment or access to overdrafts, there is a real risk that their practices are forced into financial distress or collapse if Section 43 is adopted.”

The comment period is open until February 19. Submissions can be made to the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour’s Zolani Sakasa via: zsakasa@parliament.gov.za.

Source: IOL at https://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/news/concern-about-catastrophic-consequences-of-changes-to-domestic-worker-compensation-fund-3cab8246-bf14-42c6-ae24-eb9ee1b44504