80% of South Africans who contracted Covid-19 at work are women
Female workers represent more than 80% of all Covid-19 claims received by the Compensation Fund from employees who contracted the disease on the job, the department of employment and labour said in a statement.
“We are aware that our frontline workers like nurses and other medical staff have been affected by the pandemic. We would like to send the appeal for employers to ensure that workers are adequately protected and are given the necessary protective gear to do their jobs. Our figures show that most affected employees are nurses who are paying the ultimate price so that we get a second chance and survive the pandemic," said Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi.
The Compensation Fund has received a total of 941 claims to date with the highest number coming from the Western Cape. The province recorded 657 claims, of which 533 were from women. In the Eastern Cape, 99 claimants were received and in KwaZulu-Natal, 98 claims.
Some 54 claims were recorded in Gauteng, while in Limpopo and North West only two claims each were received.
All employers must register with the Compensation Fund, and pay it an annual fee based on their workers' earnings and the risks associated with the type of work being done.
What happens if you contract Covid-19 at work?
By law, you don’t have to take sick days – the Compensation Fund will pay out these days to your employer.
Covid-19 has been declared an occupational disease in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA). This means that if an employee is absent from work due to contracting the virus during the course and scope of his or her employment, the Compensation Fund will pay out the leave days – up to 30 days - to the employer
COIDA stipulates that sick leave does not apply to an inability to work caused by an accident or occupational disease. An employee therefore doesn’t have to use their sick leave allocation.
In suspected or unconfirmed cases (where there is no positive diagnosis), a medical practitioner may recommend self-quarantine. According to the COIDA notice the employer is responsible for remunerating the employee in these circumstances.
The fund will also pay out medical aid costs for a period of no more than 30 days from the date of diagnosis.
To date, the fund has paid out more than R200,000 in medical aid costs for people who contracted the disease at work.
If a person who contracted Covid-19 at work dies from the disease, the fund will pay out "reasonable" burial expenses and pensions for widows and dependents.