WCA Column October 2008

“To err is human, to really screw up you need a computer.”  (Anonymous from Wikiquote)

Statutory benchmarks
You will recall (read “remember”, not the recall of politicians) that I promised to supply you with legislation benchmarks to evaluate the performance levels in respect of the awarding of the benefits to which the injured employee (and the employer) are statutorily entitled to.  The first are statutory benchmarks as provided for in the COID Act.  I will quote only the three most important ones relating to the rights of the injured employee:
Remember what the benefits are for an injured employee?

  1. Medical Costs
  2. Temporary Total Disablement Payments
  3. Permanent Disablement (If applicable)
  4. Pensions to Dependants in Fatal cases
  5. Burial costs in fatal cases.



Medical costs

Accounts to be paid on behalf of employee by CC within the normal payment period as in the commercial environment. (30 days etc.) From the Act: The Director-General or the employer individually liable or mutual association concerned, as the case may be, shall for a period of not more than two years from the date of an accident or the commencement of a disease referred to in section 65(1) pay the reasonable cost incurred by or on behalf of an employeein respect of medical aid necessitated by such accident or disease. [sect 73(1)].

Temporary Total Disablement Payments

Payment of compensation in terms of subsections (1) and (2) shall take place in the form of periodical payments at such times and intervals, but not exceeding one month, as the Director-General may determine Sect 47(4)

Permanent Disablement
Burial Expenses

As soon as the required documents have been submitted to the CC’s Office by employer and dependants. The pension is supposed to replace the deceased employees income.






The time limit provisions prescribed by the Act are numerous.  For the State to hide behind clichés as a smoke screen for a lack of performance is not going to work.  Returning to the basic legal framework for measuring performance will always be the crux of the matter.  That is why the legislator has stipulated time limits.  “….but not exceeding one month is the absolute maximum period allowed by the legislator for the Compensation Commissioner to compensate the injured because most employed people are paid at least as often as once a month (of course, many are paid weekly or fortnightly).  Ask around how long these people wait to be compensated, if ever.  The same principle underlies the benefits for permanent disablement and fatal cases.  It is not charity!!! You have paid your assessments to cover the costs.  You will be treated with “zero tolerance” should you as the employer fail in your duty.

Employers’ Rights
I propose that the least that you can expect of the Compensation Commissioner in exchange for the annual assessments that pay is that he compensates and cares for the injured.  However, you will see from press releases such as this recent one that the Compensation Commissioner is facing serious problems:
 “The Democratic Alliance on Monday called for a forensic investigation of the Compensation Fund (CF) and for the fund to be put out to tender.
The latest disclaimer by the Auditor-General in his report on the CF tabled in parliament, confirmed the evidence of complaints to the DA that the fund was in serious disarray, DA spokesperson Anchen Dreyer said.
According to the AG, the extent of the mismanagement of the CF ranged from a complete breakdown of internal controls and a filing system in complete disarray, to non-compliance with applicable legislation.
This sorry state of affairs at the CF was leaving thousands of vulnerable beneficiaries out in the cold, she said.  The CF was supposed to assist employees who had had the misfortune of contracting an occupational disease or suffering an injury while on duty

The response to that was a series of press releases by the Department of Labour, raising the usual clichés in defence.  A “lack of skill”, “insufficient IT infrastructure” and “bad management by predecessors”.  “Zero tolerance” and “fast tracking” are amongst the quick-fix measures that will be implemented.  Usually outdated IT infrastructures are blamed for the problems, despite the numerous “launches” of new systems.

The End
Now you, the workers’ compensation administrators out there, can make your own assessment about the manner in which both the employee and you are being treated.  Then, possibly, you can decide what you have to do.

Till next month.
Louis van Assen