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  • Writer's pictureIzwi

Workers Compensation for Domestic Workers: Landmark Victory is lacking Compliance

Updated: Apr 17

After a long battle in the courts, culminating in a powerful judgement at the Constitutional Court in March 2019, Domestic workers are now covered by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA). However, it seems employers are not complying. As the Constitutional Court noted,

Domestic workers – despite the advent of our constitutional dispensation – remain severely exploited, undermined, and devalued as a result of their lived experiences at the intersecting axes of discrimination. Yet, these Black women are survivors of a system that contains remnants of our colonial and apartheid past. These Black women are brave, creative, strong, and smart. They are committed mothers and caretakers and have the ability to perform work in conditions that are challenging both psychologically and physically. These Black women are not “invisible” or “powerless”. On the contrary, they have a voice, and we are listening. These Black women are at the heart of our society. Ensuring that they are afforded basic rights, and an avenue to vindicate these rights, is central to our transformative constitutional project.

The law now provides for the payment of compensation to employees who suffer injuries or contract diseases while performing their work duties through the Compensation Fund. In the case of a death as a result of a work-related injury or disease, the Fund allows for compensation to the deceased employee’s dependents. The factsheet below (which you can download here), from the Socio-Economic Rights Initiative and Black Sash, highlights the four main types of compensation payments under COIDA and explains how domestic workers can claim from the compensation fund.

Unfortunately, Although the law now requires domestic employers to register their workers for COIDA, as of June 2022, only 1677 domestic workers had been registered since the judgement. This is a shocking 0.2% of workers in the industry. Only a handful of claims have been made, and only fewer have been settled. As with other aspects of the labour law in the domestic sector, all efforts must be on enforcement.

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