If you have employees, your business needs to be registered in terms of COIDA, the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. In addition, you need to pay an annual assessment. But before you roll your eyes about yet another administrative headache that you don’t have time to worry about, bear in mind that COIDA actually works in your favour. Failing to register and pay your annual fee is not only an offence that could lead to a fine, but could leave you without any protection from legal action taken by your employees in the event of injury or diseases.
What is COIDA?
Firstly, you need to understand what COIDA is about. Simply put, COIDA exempts you, the employer, from liability for injuries or diseases contracted by your employees in the course of their work. This means the Act protects you from any damages claims that your employees may otherwise be able to institute against your company if they get injured or sick working for you. But – here’s the catch – you have to be registered. If you aren’t and one of your employees is injured, falls ill or is killed while working for you, you would not be indemnified against legal action and civil claims.
However, the Act does make provision for employees who are injured or fall ill as a result of work. They are entitled to compensation for total or permanent disablement and death as well as reasonable medical expenses for two years arising out of injury. As an employer, you are required to pay the employee 75% of their normal salary for three months during the time that they are injured or ill, but this entire amount is repaid to your business by the fund. The fund covers the relevant medical expenses.
Because COIDA provides a system of ‘no fault’ compensation, employees are entitled to compensation regardless of whether the injury or illness was caused by you, their employer, or a third party. If the accident or illness was caused as a result of your own negligence, they may be entitled to claim more compensation.
Registering with COIDA
Registration for COIDA is a simple process. You first need to obtain a W.As2 form, either from the Department of Labour website, www.labour.gov.za, or any labour centre. Like all government documents, it pays to fill out of the form carefully, answering all questions and providing all relevant information. If there is outstanding information that requires follow-up, your registration will be delayed. Bear in mind that you also need to send in a separate registration for each separate branch of your business, unless you’ve made an arrangement for combined registration.
Include a copy of the registration certificate from the Registrar of Companies if you are a company or closed corporation; or your ID document, if you are sole owners of the business and send it together with the form to PO Box 955, Pretoria, 0001.
Submitting Your Annual Statement
Once you’ve received a registration number, you will need to submit an annual statement of the total earnings paid to your employees (for the period from 1 March to 28 February) before 31 March each year. This, together with an assessment tariff pertaining to the industry in which you operate, will be used to calculate the annual assessment fee you have to pay. The rates are fixed according to the class of industry in which the employer is engaged on the principle that each industry should produce sufficient revenue to meet the cost of accidents during the year of assessment and such cost of administration as may be incurred. This ensures that each class and sub-class bears its own cost of accidents. A full list of the different classes, sub-classes and assessment tariffs can be downloaded from the Department of Labour website. According to the national department of labour, coida applies to:
- casual and full-time workers who, as a result of a workplace accident or work-related disease:
- are injured, disabled or killed; or become ill.
however, it excludes:
- employees who are totally or partially disabled for less than three days;
- domestic workers;
- anyone receiving military training;
- members of the South African National Defence Force, or the South African Police Service;
- any worker guilty of wilful misconduct, unless they are seriously disabled or killed;
- anyone employed outside South Africa for 12 or more continuous months; and
- employees working mainly outside the country and only temporarily employed in South Africa.