Q&A Forum

Reader Question: How to claim after being injured at work

Employer, compensation fund must help claimant

12 December 2019 - 11:49
To qualify for worker compensation you must have been injured on the job or contracted an occupational illness through your work. Picture: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV
To qualify for worker compensation you must have been injured on the job or contracted an occupational illness through your work. Picture: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV

A Sowetan Money reader is seeking reasons for the Compensation Fund’s refusal to pay after he was injured on the job. The reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, writes:

"I work for a property development company in Pretoria, Centurion. I was injured on duty in December 2017. We were putting up a billboard when the frame fell and broke my right ankle. 

"I was admitted to hospital on the same day and told to return after the swelling had come down. Six days later I went back, was admitted to hospital and two days later had an operation. 

"I was off work for three months, during which time I was paid only 25% of my normal salary. When I took all the medical certificates to the Compensation Fund, I was told I don’t qualify for any compensation, but I was not given any reason.

Laura Macfarlane, an associate from law firm Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc, says you, as the employee, do not qualify to claim from the Compensation Fund if the treatment lasts for three days or less.

The intention of the Compensation Fund, which was established by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, is to provide compensation to employees and their dependants who have suffered personal injury, illness or death as a result of an accident arising out of or a disease contracted in the course of their employment. 

To qualify, you must have been:

  1. injured in an accident while doing your work;
  2. contracted or sustained an occupational illness or disease through your work; or
  3. died as a result of an occupational disease or workplace accident. 

To get compensation, you must provide written or verbal notice of the accident to your employer as soon as possible and may also provide notice to the commissioner of the compensation fund. When reporting the accident, you must provide any documents, information, medical reports or other documents concerning the claim. You may have to be examined by a medical practitioner. 

Your employer must report the injury to the commissioner within seven days after having received notice of the accident or having learnt of the accident. A claim for compensation must be lodged with the commissioner or your employer within 12 months from the date of the accident.

As we have limited information in the case at hand, we are unaware of any reason why you would not qualify for compensation.

The director-general of the Department of Labour must consider and adjudicate on a claim for compensation, and for that purpose may carry out such investigations. Thus, the employee that you encountered when attempting to make your application at the fund would not be authorised to reject your claim on the spot.

On your account, you were injured in an accident while engaged in your work and the treatment of your injury was for a period of greater than three days. Therefore, it appears as if you may qualify for compensation under the Act. 

We recommend that you consult with your employer and inquire whether they lodged an application for compensation on your behalf with the fund. If they have not, we would recommend that you return to the Department of Labour to find out if your own application was in fact lodged, and if not, the reasons for the failure to do so. 

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