Up to 180 000 of South Africa’s most vulnerable, injured or disabled workers are outraged at having been failed by the Compensation Fund (CF) and the software system “glitches” that have caused prolonged delays in payments since mid-2019.
The fund, a Department of Employment and Labour entity, launched the system, called Compeasy, in October last year. It replaced the previous system, Umehluko.
The fund provides compensation for disablement caused by occupational injuries or diseases sustained or contracted by employees in the course of their employment, or for death resulting from such injuries or diseases.
Spokesperson for the Injured Workers Action Group (IWAG), Tim Hughes, said on Monday: “Workers from across South Africa who have been injured on duty are facing a crisis of epic proportions as a result of the technological collapse of the R60 billion Compensation Fund that is legally mandated to cover their medical bills and disability pensions.”
Hughes said: “The fund replaced its previous system with a new SAP-based system called CompEasy (S4i) in October 2019, but the new system – with R300million price tag – is dysfunctional.
“SA’s employers contribute R9bn annually towards the fund, which is mandated by law to cover the medical, rehabilitation and disability expenses of the country’s injured workers, but they are now footing the bill for the fund and its dysfunction by having to step in to pay their workers’ medical invoices in the absence of claims settlement by the Compensation Fund.”
Hughes, who was launching IWAG in Cape Town, said: “An average of 1000 workers are injured on duty in South Africa every day, and need to claim from the fund for their medical care.
“Workers are waiting in vain for critical care, disability pensions, and rehabilitation, and some are losing their livelihoods and homes because they can no longer work.”
Hughes claimed that thousands of doctors and therapists around the country who provided specialized Injury on Duty care, and the companies that provided them with financial help, were facing financial ruin because the fund was not paying their invoices.
Meanwhile, the fund put out a press statement on Monday, saying it was addressing the “glitches identified on its new claimant system for victims of occupational hazards”.
Hughes said: “It is not a glitch, it is a profound failure.”
In its statement, the fund said: “Noting that the CF has received some complaints and frustrations from clients, we are continuing with providing training to stakeholders, as we have been since 2019.”