Following the recent inclusion of domestic workers as formal employees under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA), the government can now appoint inspectors that can enter homes and places of work to enforce compliance with the Act.
Domestic workers are now considered formal employees under the COIDA, meaning that anyone employing a domestic worker must comply with the relevant laws.
The changes were signed into law in April 2023, significantly boosting domestic worker rights and protections in the country.
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 the domestic worker will be required to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Domestic workers and employees working over 27 hours per month must be registered with the UIF. Employers with domestic workers working these hours must register with UIF and list them as employees.
A total of 2% of the employee’s salary must be paid to UIF each month – 1% has to be paid by the employer, and the other 1% may be deducted from the employee’s wages.
In addition to this, to cover workers against occupational diseases, injuries and death, employers must register with the Compensation Fund and submit annual returns (ROEs).
According to Compensation Fund Legal Services, Irish Lephoto, the amended Act gives powers to the Commissioner to appoint inspectors to enforce compliance with the Act.
These inspectors will be provided with a signed certificate confirming that they are inspectors, and the certificate shall state which legislation they are monitoring or enforcing.
“The inspectors may enter a home or other workplace with the consent of the owner or occupier. The Labour Court may authorise entry upon the inspector’s application; if practicable, the employer and trade must be notified of the inspection and the reason thereof.
“The changes in the amendment act will affect everyone and change how we do business. All workers have a right to social security, which is our priority. Including domestic employees in the Act is crucial to all of us; hence we are taking steps to enforce compliance,” said Lephoto.
On Friday (11 August), the Department of Employment and Labour encouraged domestic employees who were injured or contracted occupational diseases while on duty from 27 April 1994 to come forward and claim their benefits.
However, Labour Deputy Director of Employer Registrations and Compliance, Jan Madiega, noted that a right to claim in terms of the Act will lapse if the accident that happened or the disease that commenced on or after 27 April 1994 is not brought to the attention of the Commissioner or of the employer or mutual association concerned, as the case may be within 36 months from the date of signature on the amendment Act 10 of 2022.
He further warned employers that, per amendments in the COID Act 10 of 2022, failure to register employees, pay and submit the ROEs within a reasonable period would result in a penalty of 10% of actual or estimated annual earnings.
Madiega added that if a worker gets injured and it is found that you are employing an illegal foreign national, you will be prosecuted for harbouring an illegal immigrant in your household.
“However, whether the domestic employee is a foreign national is immaterial. As an employer, you must register your domestic employees. Upon receiving a claim, the Fund will request relevant documents,” he said.