Include Domestic Workers in Compensation for Occupational Injury & Disease Act

Include Domestic Workers in Compensation for Occupational Injury & Disease Act

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PETITION TO URGE GOVERNMENT TO SPEEDILY IMPLEMENT HIGH COURT’S JUDGMENT TO INCLUDE DOMESTIC WORKERS IN THE COMPENSATION OF INJURIES & DISEASES ACT AND FOR THEM TO BE INCLUDED IN THE COMPENSATION FOR OCCUPATIONALLY ACQUIRED NOVEL CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19)

This is a petition, by domestic workers’, trade unionists, workers organizations, Activists, Allies, and Informal workers organizations, which draws the attention of President, Cabinet and particularly the Minister of Employment and Labour to:
Government Notice of March 20, 2020 (Circular No. CF/30/2020) which was issued by the Department of Employment and Labour in terms of Section 6A of the Compensation for Occupational Injury and Disease Act, 130 of 1993 (COIDA) to include compensation for occupationally acquired Novel CoronaVirus Disease (COVID-19).

While the extension of compensation under Government Notice (Circular No. CF/30/2020) to Covid-19 related illness is warranted, it continues to irrationally and unjustifiably exclude domestic workers from its ambit.

In 2012, the South African Domestic Worker Union (SADSAWU), initiated a constitutional challenge to the exclusion of Domestic Workers from obtaining compensation under COIDA, arguing that the exclusion violates rights to constitutional rights to equality and dignity. In May 2019 the North Gauteng High Court declared the exclusion to be unconstitutional, and that the order would operate retrospectively. In March 2020, the matter was the confirmation hearing was held in the Constitutional Court, and judgement is now awaited.

In October 2019, a proposed draft amendment Bill, seeking to extend coverage to domestic workers in COIDA, was widely debated and discussed by various stakeholders. However, to date, there has been no progress in taking the Bill through the legislative process.

While these legislative and judicial processes take their course, the COVID-19 pandemic has interceded. The Government has now sought to address the devastating impacts of COVID-19, through Notice 220. The Notice clarifies the position of the Compensation fund with regards to compensation of claims for COVID-19, and highlights Healthcare or Support personnel as a high risk category who are compelled to enter patients rooms exposed to known or suspected COVID-19 patients. Yet, domestic workers, who are not covered in the notice, are similarly situated.

Domestic workers' continued exclusion from compensation under COIDA, now prevents them from claiming compensation during the current COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, while other workers have been afforded a safety net, domestic workers are left to fend for themselves. Yet, their risk of being exposed to and contracting COVID-19 while working in private households is no less than that of other workers, and will only increase as the pandemic spreads. This exclusion of domestic workers from claiming compensation, has always been irrational and discriminatory, but its consequences are exacerbated by the current crisis and their immediate inclusion is critical.

We therefore demand, as a matter of urgency, that the Minister of Department of Employment and Labour, Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour, Parliamentary Committee on Employment and Labour:

  • Include domestic workers in the Compensation for COVID-19 Claims
  • The inclusion should have retrospective effect
  • Finalize the legislative processes of amending Compensation for Occupational Injury and Disease Act, 130 of 1993, to include domestic workers employed in private households

 

Principle Petitioners:
South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU)
SADSAWU: General Secretary
Myrtle Witbooi
Cell: +27 78 841 4382
Email : myrtlewitbooi@gmail.com

United Domestic Workers of South Africa (UDWOSA)
President - Pinky Mashiane
Cell: +27 73 291 2244
Email: mashianepinky@gmail.com