Compensation for Injuries, Disease or Death During Employment

If you get injured, contract a disease or die while working, you or your dependents can claim from the Compensation Fund. The Fund pays compensation to permanent and casual workers, trainees and apprentices who are injured or contract a disease in the course of their work and lose income as a result.

You can claim if you are:

  • permanently employed;
  • a domestic worker in a boarding house or employed in a business set-up;
  • an apprentice or trainee farm worker;
  • a worker paid by a labour agency.

You cannot claim if you are:

  • a domestic worker employed at a private home;
  • a member of the Permanent Force of the South African National Defence Force;
  • a member of the South African Police Services;
  • a sub-contractor;
  • the owner of a sole proprietorship;
  • someone who worked outside South Africa for more than 12 months without entering into an agreement with the Director-General of the Department of Labour;
  • found guilty of wilful misconduct, unless you are seriously disabled or killed.

Compensation benefits will not be paid if:

  • you reported the accident to the employer more than 12 months after the accident or death, or after the disease was diagnosed;
  • you are off work for three days or less, when the Fund will only pay medical;
  • the accident resulted from your own negligence or wrong doing (unless you are seriously disabled or die in the accident, then the Fund will still pay compensation);
  • you unreasonably refuse or wilfully neglect to have medical treatment.1

The Compensation Fund was established in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 1993. It falls under the authority of the Minister of Labour, and to find out more about claiming for occupational injuries or diseases, contact the Compensation Fund.

A. Registration

  1. Any person who, in any way, employs another person2 must register with the Compensation Commissioner and furnish particulars of his business.3

  2. All employers must keep a register (or record) of the earnings and certain other particulars of all employees.4

  3. The register (or record) must be kept for four years after the date of the last entry.5

  4. The register must be produced to any authorised assessor, officer, or medical practitioner if requested during an investigation.6

  5. All employers (except if exempt7) must, by no later than 31 March of each year, furnish the Commissioner with a return showing the earnings paid to employees in the past year.8

  6. If an employer commences business after the last day of February in a particular year, he must furnish the Commissioner with a return showing estimated earnings for his employees for the rest of that financial year (i.e. till the end of next February) within seven days.9

  7. It is an offence for an employer to demand or receive from an employee a contribution towards the cost of medical aid supplied (or to be supplied) in terms of the Act.10

  8. It is also an offence to receive such a contribution from an employee.11

  9. It is a crime to:

    • ignore regulations made by the Minister of Labour concerning various matters for the proper administration of the Compensation Fund;12
    • make a false statement in any return, notice or report;13
    • threaten, compel or influence an employee to do something resulting in, or directed at, the deprivation of that employee’s rights to benefit in terms of the Act.14

B. The Director-General and Fund employees

The Director-General’s functions include conducting inquiries into accidents and occupational diseases; adjudicate on claims and issue orders for the payment of compensation.

  1. In the conducting of an inquiry, he may subpoena any person who he thinks has information or documentation concerning such inquiry. It is an offence for any person subpoenaed:15
    • not to attend such inquiry (without sufficient reason);
    • to fail to remain at such inquiry until excused;
    • to refuse to be sworn as a witness or make an affirmation;
    • after having been sworn in as a witness or having made an affirmation, to knowingly make a false statement;16
    • not to fully answer any questions put to him;
    • to fail to produce any documentation he was required to produce;
    • to hinder or obstruct the Director-General in the performance of his functions.
  2. No person other than an advocate or attorney shall be entitled to any fees or remuneration for their involvement in an inquiry (unless otherwise allowed for by the Director-General) and it is an offence to collect monies in contravention of this provision.17

  3. The Director-General may authorise an assessor, public service employee or medical practitioner to investigate any matter deemed necessary. It is an offence to hinder or obstruct them in the performance of their functions.18

  4. The Director-General of the Department of Labour will assess an employer as to the earnings of his employees, compared with the requirements of the Compensation Fund, and may levy assessments or fines to be paid. An employer who fails to pay any such assessment or fine is guilty of an offence.19

  5. It is a crime to disclose any information obtained whilst in the performance of duties under the Act.20

C. In the event of an accident

  1. The employer has 7 days after receiving notice or knowledge of an accident and 14 days after receiving notice or knowledge of an employee contracting a disease to report such to the commissioner.21 It is an offence for an employer to fail to report this.22

  2. Should an employee need to be compensated for temporary or total disablement in terms of the Act,23 the employer shall pay this to the employee for the first three months from the date of accident, which will thereafter be reimbursed by the Director-General. It is an offence for the employer to fail so to compensate such an employee.24

  3. Any employer who deducts (from the earnings of an employee) any amount, or receives any amount from the employee, as compensation to that employer for any amount he needs to pay in terms of the Act is guilty of an offence.25

  4. It is an offence for an employer to fail to arrange for an employee who is injured in an accident to be transported to a hospital or medical practitioner and thereafter to the employee’s home.26

  5. It is a crime to make a false statement in connection with a claim for compensation.27

  1. See in general,

  2. The definition of ‘employee’ in terms of this Act specifically excludes military, defence force and police personnel as well as domestic workers employed in a private household. 

  3. Section 80. 

  4. Section 81(1) and (3). 

  5. Section 81(2) and (3). 

  6. Section 81(1) and (3). 

  7. Those exempt are: National and Provincial Government, a local authority exempted by the Workmans Compensation Act, and those with approved insurance covering liability to employees. 

  8. Section 82(1) and (6). 

  9. Section 82(1A) and (6). 

  10. Section 77(1). 

  11. Section 77(1). 

  12. Section 97. 

  13. Section 98. 

  14. Section 37. 

  15. Section 6(1) to (3). 

  16. Section 6(4). 

  17. Section 46. 

  18. Section 7(5)(d). 

  19. Section 82(3) and (6). 

  20. Section 96. 

  21. Section 39(1) and section 68(2). 

  22. Section 39(6) and 68(3). 

  23. Section 47. 

  24. Section 47(3). 

  25. Section 64(1). 

  26. Section 72(1) and (3). 

  27. Section 98.