Domestic worker Lucy Mokhahle working at the Johannesburg house of her employer Rose Hamilton, in August 2015 (Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images)
  • Domestic workers are now able to claim compensation for injuries or illnesses contracted while on the job.
  • Specific benefits, terms, and registration rules of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act have been gazetted, following a landmark Constitutional Court judgement.
  • That includes disability cover and medical benefits for domestic workers, and also extends cover to dependants in the event of death.
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Domestic workers in South Africa who suffer injury or contract an illness at work now have a practical mechanism to apply for compensation, after the Compensation Fund commissioner Vuyo Mafata gazetted new terms on Wednesday.

The rules follow a landmark Constitutional Court ruling in November 2020, which forced recognition of domestic workers under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA).

The effects are far-reaching.

Domestic workers – whether they have an express contract not, are covered by three main compensation measures as determined by the COIDA. These include:

  • Temporary total disablement, when an injured employee is booked off for four days or more by a treating doctor to recuperate from the injuries or condition. The maximum period payable is 24 months.
  • Permanent disablement lump sums, which are paid on a medical report indicating that the employee has reached maximum medical improvement, limited to 30% of the benefit.
  • Permanent disablement pensions, which use the same criteria as lump sums, but can run to 100% of a benefit payment.

Benefits, and minimum and maximum compensation limits, are based on the type and extent of an injury or disability.

Some medical expenses are covered too

The Compensation Fund will cover “reasonable” medical expenses following on-the-job incidents.

If the employee requires chronic medication, as a direct result of an injury or illness contracted while at work, the Compensation Fund will cover these costs too

The Compensation Fund will also pay for assistive devices such as wheelchairs and prosthetics, along with rehabilitation, reintegration and return to work programmes.

Dependants of employees may be eligible for funeral expenses and compensation

Funeral expenses are payable to dependents of a deceased employee depending on the date. If the death occurred before April 2019, funeral expenses already incurred by the dependants will be refunded up to a defined maximum. For those who died after 1 April 2019, the benefit is R18,251 as a lump sum.

Surviving spouses will be paid “widow’s compensation” which includes either a once-off lump sum award or pension award. A child pension is also offered, which pays children of the deceased up until the age of 18. This pension may be extended for children who are still going to school after turning 18 years.

If there is no surviving spouse or child, a wholly dependency award may be granted to the parents or siblings of the deceased employee who were dependant on the income of the deceased employee.

Employers are required to register workers

All employers of domestic workers are “encouraged to register with the Compensation Fund without delay” by submitting the following documents to or

  • A completed CF-1E Form (Application for the registration of the domestic worker employer)
  • Copies of the ID documents, passports, or similar for of identification for both employer and employee
  • Proof of the employer’s residential address
  • A copy of the employment contract

Employers are also required to submit a Return of Earnings (ROE) form on an annual basis.

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