Louis, all of us at WCA Workers Compensation Assistance will miss you. I’m sure many, many more people outside our company will join us in saluting the enormous contribution you made to workers’ compensation in South Africa. And I would like to thank you on behalf of many thousands of employers and employees – people who have no idea that their lives were made a little easier, a little fairer, because of your passion for the work you did every day. Our condolences go out to your family and friends. May you rest in peace.
How often do you read or hear reports or press releases so delusional that it sounds as if it cannot be true? A popular one is to state that they will solve their problems through the upgrading/replacement of their information technology (IT) infrastructure? I have seen and heard this promise on numerous occasions from both state departments as well as large private sector organisations. Every time an organisation is under-performing the solution seems to be to introduce hardware and software.
I have studied the Department of Labour’s press release dated 3/2/2012 regarding their intention to decentralize the administration of the COID office with scepticism and amusement at the same time. Amused you may ask! Yes when this was suggested during 1995 as an alternative to closing all decentralized offices in the then ex-TBVC countries, it was met with massive opposition from the new management. I got the idea that the central authorities feared that decentralization was tantamount to affording more power to the second level of government namely provincial authorities.
This is the time of the year that you must prepare for the submission of your annual Return of Earnings to the Compensation Commissioner’s office and the subsequent payment of your annual assessments. In other words, render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s. But, at the same time beware. The State has a nasty habit of changing financial software programmes with an obvious inherent risk for you the employer. It is for this reason that I intend to discuss the main issues that you should address in connection with the payment of assessments.
I have over the past months presented you with a brief summary of the more important aspects of workers’ compensation in South Africa. There were several Acts in this regard since the end of the 19th century and eventually culminated in the 1993 Act which came into force on 1 March 1994. Generally speaking the different Acts improved over the years but the central theme remained unchanged and that is assisting the injured so as to avoid hardship.
We have now reached the final column dealing with the more important issues in the COID Act. The sections in this chapter are not something that you will deal with regularly; they are mainly procedures that the CC’s office is allowed to follow.
This chapter provides for the legal remedies that are available to all the parties involved in workers’ compensation. Before I supply you with a brief summary of the more important aspects of these remedies, I must caution you that there is an enormous lack of understanding regarding the content of the sections contained in the COIDA, on the part of employers and employee on the one hand as well as in the office of the CC. I am not going to try in the short document to speculate about the reason for this.
Although no part of the COIDA can be said to be unimportant, this chapter is regarded by experts as particularly important when it comes to the administration of the Act. The reason for this is mainly that the CC’s office is far more focussed on the obligations of the employers than the rights of the injured workers for whose purpose the legislation was originally established. There appears to be no sympathy with defaulting employers whilst the CC’s obligations to injured employees leave a lot to be desired.
Medical costs in terms of Chapter VIII of the COIDA were recently labelled by the CC as the biggest medical scheme in South Africa. Whether this statement is technically correct as it is not registered as such, is not relevant. The fact of the matter is that it is a huge fund with much more benefits than that of the traditional medical schemes. It provides for a much wider spectrum of benefits. Let me give a few examples: