What you can claim if you get the coronavirus at work

If you contracted the coronavirus at work, you may be able to claim for temporary or permanent disability, depending on how you were affected – but you will have to prove that you did, in fact, become ill at work. 

A Notice on Compensation for Occupational-Acquired Novel Corona Virus Diseases (Covid-19), was published in the Government Gazette by the Compensation Commissioner and came into effect on 23 March.

The available benefits for employees found to have contracted the coronavirus at work include temporary total disablement benefits if it does not exceed 30 days; permanent disability where an assessment has been made by the Compensation Fund; medical aid for a period of no more than 30 days where an employee has tested positive for Covid-19; and certain death benefits.

Proof required

In order to claim compensation for having been infected with the coronavirus at work, you would have to show that the infection occurred after exposure during the course of your work and from a known source of Covid-19, according to Bradley Workman-Davies, a director at Werksmans Attorneys.   

According to Workman-Davies, if an employee is quarantined by a medical practitioner according to stipulated guidelines, or where it is suspected that the employee has Covid-19 or where it cannot otherwise be confirmed, the employer would then be liable to pay the employee his or her salary or wages during this period.

In cases where the employee is confirmed to have Covid-19, and where the Compensation Fund has accepted liability, the fund will make payment to the employee.

Disability benefits

Permanent disability may happen where complications arose due to the employee having been infected with the virus, explains Workman-Davies.

As for the payment of medical aid for a period of no more than 30 days where an employee has tested positive for Covid-19, further medical aid could be considered if it would reduce the extent of disablement.

Death benefits would include reasonable burial expenses and dependents’ pensions if an employee dies as a result of Covid-19 complications.

Employer duties

The employer would have to report cases in a prescribed manner to the Compensation Fund.

For example, exposure could have resulted from an approved work trip to countries or areas of high risk for Covid-19. Someone could also have been exposed to a work environment which would have been presumed to be of high risk due to the inherently prevalent transmission of Covid-19.

You must be able to show, chronologically, that the development of symptoms followed the work exposure.

“Very high risk occupations” include healthcare workers; “high risk exposure occupations” include healthcare delivery and support staff; “medium risk occupations” are those which require frequent or close contact of within two meters with people who may be infected with Covid-19, but who are not known or suspected Covid-19 patients.

“Low risk occupations are those that do not require contact with people known to be, or suspected of being infected with Covid-19, nor frequently have close contact of within two meters with the general public.

* Compiled by Carin Smith

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