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How employers benefit from WCFCB protection

JUST how do employers benefit from complying with the Workers’ Compensation Act?
Well you may want to know, it is not out of benevolence that employers register and make financial contributions otherwise known as assessments to the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB).
Rather, it is out of the need to adhere to a legally established system for protection of workers, should occupational accidents and diseases arise and result in disabilities or death.
The requirements as established under Act No. 10 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia for the purpose of protecting the lives of workers in pursuit of goals of social justice and economic efficiency, demand that employers register.
We bring out this fact to correct the impression held by certain sections of society that compliance with WCFCB may be voluntary after all. No it is not.
The law is clear on the social security system for employment injury and disease and all employers except the State, security wings such as the Zambia Police Service, Zambia Army, Zambia Air Force and the Zambia National Service, are amenable to Act No. 10 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia.
What is necessary for now is to discuss how employers amenable to the Workers’ Compensation Act benefit from compliance. And readers may wish to know that compliant employers are protected against civil claims for compensation which might be instituted against them in the event of a worker getting injured in the course of duty except where negligence, breach of duty or other wrongful act or omission of a worker for whose act or default the employer is responsible.
In other words, employees exchange their right to sue the employer with social insurance, provided through a central fund, when their employer complies with the Workers’ Compensation Act. From this statement, it can well be deduced that employers derive protection from complying with WCFCB as a beginning point to other benefits.
The other benefit and, in my opinion, the most attractive of all benefits coming out of the central fund at the moment, is the enjoyment of 100 percent refund of all medical expenses incurred in the treatment and hospitalisation of a worker who contracts an injury or disease in the course of duty.
On presentation of receipts of medical expenses incurred on treatment of workers at local health institutions including foreign institutions where the Commissioner granted prior approval before evacuation, a full refund is granted.
In recent times, we have had to settle in excess of K300,000 claim from one employer, whose identity is withheld, as a result of expenses incurred in the treatment and hospitalisation of one worker, whose identity is also withheld.
This is the benefit we would like to see employers getting out of the central fund and we encourage the practice in order that stakeholders can derive value from WCFCB.
It may be necessary to inform you that the refund made to this employer was far much more than the assessment paid in respect of the worker into the central fund. And readers can see that WCFCB might be experiencing challenges with some meagre monthly pensions but that is not all what comes out of the fund.
Yet another important benefit accruing to employers is the re-imbursement of salaries paid to a worker during the period of hospitalisation. The periodical payments are given to the employer to cover the period an employee is not rendering service to the employer but continues to get paid a normal salary. This I must state is subject to ceilings provided in the Workers’ Compensation Act.
What becomes even more meaningful benefit is the provision of free occupational health and safety services to employers to assist in the management and prevention of accidents and diseases at work places. The WCFCB has employed experts in health and safety to help employers develop policies and management systems for occupational health and safety. Every year, our team visits many working sites to provide education to workers on accident prevention.
In my opinion, this is what we should be considering as efforts being made by WCFCB to attain goals of economic efficiency in the provision of social security for employment injury and disease.
And in examining the role and purpose of WCFCB in society, we must learn to look at a bigger picture than just the monthly disability pensions.
Yes, the monthly disability pension is the primary product but it is indeed augmented by a number of other value adding services which we want the public to appreciate. And when we talk about compensation, we must include all what goes with it.
The author is Manager- Corporate Affairs and Customer Service
at Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board