There are around 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million victims of work-related illnesses annually around the world. These statistics from the International Labour Organization paint a very real picture of the challenges facing businesses and governments. Work-related injuries often require medical treatment and this causes employees to miss days of work or limit their work activities.
Absenteeism affects productivity and operating costs, which can be extremely costly for businesses, and there are possible financial and legal implications if negligence is proven. In addition, the injured employee and their family face emotional and financial hardships, while colleagues left behind feel the stress of covering the extra workload in their absence.
With private medical care, workers aren’t left to fend for themselves, they can recover faster, reducing absenteeism and lessening the impact on productivity. In South Africa, however, 73% of the population does not have access to private medical aid, and so the government instituted a law requiring businesses to protect themselves and their employees against any injuries, diseases, or the death of an employee while on company time. Businesses are legally required to register with the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COID), which is more commonly known as Workmen’s Compensation.
If your business employs one or more workers, you should know about this statutory insurance, but even though companies are required to be registered with the Compensation Fund, they may not be compliant which means that none of their employees are covered if an accident occurs.
When a business is non-compliant it cannot claim from the Compensation Fund for the medical costs paid for an injured employee. In addition to the financial risk, a business owner may also be prevented from applying for funding, contracts, or tenders without a Letter of Good Standing from the Compensation Fund.
There are numerous reasons for non-compliance. It could be that the business failed to pay their annual assessment fee or that they haven’t correctly registered their employees. It’s challenging for business owners to keep registers updated, especially in industries like construction, mining, and retail that have high staff turnovers.
Employees expect their employers to take care of them when they get injured or contract an occupational disease as a result of the work they do. Non-compliance threatens the ability of employers to do just that. It’s essential that businesses be up to date and correctly registered so that the company is protected from financial and legal challenges, while employees are guaranteed the medical care they deserve should they be injured.