As the country races to the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) continues to offer services that either shield workers from the worst of the effects of the pandemic or, at worst, compensate workers who contract it at work.
With regard to compensation, a total of 3 424 Covid-19 claims have been received, of which 2 036 were made directly to the Compensation Fund (CF) and 1 314 to Rand Mutual, while Federated Employers have received 74 claims.
Rand Mutual, which operates under a licence granted by Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, covers mostly workers in the mining and iron and steel industries and has paid out R3.3-million in dependant benefits while the CF has paid out R202 172 in medical aid claims for workers who have contracted Covid-19 while on duty.
Of the 2 036 claims received by the CF, 1 425 come from the Western Cape followed by the Eastern Cape with 319, KwaZulu-Natal with 145, Gauteng with 69, Mpumalanga 45, North West 29, Limpopo three and the Northern Cape with one.
The CF has accepted liability for 1 229, which represents 60.4% of the claims received, repudiated 193 (9.5%) and 614 (30.1%) await adjudication.
The claims received by Rand Mutual comprise Gauteng with 949 claims, 137 in the Eastern Cape, 67 in the Western Cape, 56 in KwaZulu-Natal, 29 in the North West, 21 in Limpopo, 18 in the Free State and 37 which are unknown.
Of the 1 314 claims received so far, 1 253 (95.4%) are pending adjudication.
Federated Employers, which represents workers mostly in the construction sector, has received 74 claims – mostly from the Western Cape (26) and Gauteng (26), the Northern Cape (9), North West (8), KwaZulu-Natal (4) and the Free State (1).
CF Commissioner Vuyo Mafata says that, in cases where the claims have been repudiated, with better information, the claim could still be approved, and the CF will accept liability.
In the meantime, the department has appealed to companies to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken to safeguard the lives of workers in the workplace.
It is also encouraging all workers to do the basics – like washing hands, where possible to keep safe distances and wear the appropriate protective gear of which the minimum is the mask covering the nose and mouth.