Major new laws for domestic workers in South Africa – what you need to know

 ·24 Apr 2023

Domestic workers and their employers have new rules to follow in South Africa relating to compensation for injuries or diseases stemming from a place of work.

The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, 1993 has successfully been amended by Parliament following being assented to by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 6 April.

Changes to broaden the original act to keep it up to date and offer more relief for domestic workers dates back to September 2022, when Thulas Nxesi, the minister of labour, presented a bill to Parliament to grant domestic workers the status of formal employees and provide them with traditional workplace benefits.

Before the bill, domestic workers were not entitled to benefits such as compensation for work-related injuries or illnesses.

Through the new Act, the Compensation Fund will start accepting claims from domestic workers and their dependents for injuries or deaths resulting from work-related accidents.

The Act also identifies the “main employer” of a domestic worker and holds them accountable for any workplace injuries sustained by the employee. Additionally, employers and employees of domestic workers will be required to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Rehabilitation for those falling victim to an occupational injury or disease will now have access to the Compensation Fund as outlined in section 70A of the Act.

Under the section, an employer of a domestic worker is required to provide facilities, services and benefits aimed at rehabilitating employees who are suffering from occupational injuries or diseases to return to work to reduce disability resulting from their injuries or diseases.

As it stands, rehabilitation benefits may consist of the following:

  • Clinical rehabilitation and the provision of assistive devices for recovery;
  • Vocational rehabilitation to assist an employee in maintaining employment, obtaining employment, regaining or acquiring vocational independence;
  • Social rehabilitation to assist in restoring the employee’s independence and social integration to the maximum extent practicable.

Employers are also required to report or submit claims for any incident that occurred before the act.

Ultimately it is not only the duty of the employee to make a claim to the Compensation Fund but in the best interests of the employer to also follow through with the prescribed procedure.

Section 63 of the Act further prescribes:

“(1) Domestic employees and employers must report or submit a claim in the prescribed manner within three years from the date of the commencement of the Compensation For Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Act 2022, for any accident that had occured prior to the commencement of this Act.

(2) The validity of the existing licences issued to the Mutual Assocations in terms of the Act will remain effective until agreements are entered into.”

The full gazette and the relative changes may be seen below:

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