Workers’ Compensation Corner with MAYBIN NKHOLOMBA
THE concept of governance is understood in many ways by different people. This concept is wide and has far-reaching implications on the set-up of countries, societies and organisations.
Many definitions of governance focus on processes, structures and arrangements that pertain to the administration of a country, society or organisation. Let me adapt for this discourse the definitions of governance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which describes governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”. Of great interest to this discourse is the World Bank definition, which refers to governance as consisting of the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised.
We are discussing governance and how it affects the administration of the employment injury scheme under the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB). WCFCB is a corporate body established by an Act of Parliament, Number 10 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia, to exercise authority in the provision of compensation to workers for disabilities suffered in the course of employment; compensating dependents of workers who die in the course of employment and collecting assessments from employers to constitute a fund for compensation of workers.
The governance structure of WCFCB is established in section 10 (2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act Number 10 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia. It takes care of concerns of all stakeholders involved or interested in the affairs of WCFCB and this should provide sufficient comfort to readers, who may have issues with the administration of the organisation. Let me quote section 10 (2): “the board shall consist of 11 members who shall be appointed by the minister as follows; (a) the chairperson of the board (b) three persons from associations representing employers (c) three persons from associations representing workers (d) three persons from the government; and (e) one person from an association of pensioners.
Our readers may want to know that the board of directors directs the WCFCB commissioner for effective administration of the Act and after the conclusion of the financial year, reports to the minister on the administration of the organisation.
And the board has been able to submit financial statements in record time with the latest being the 2016 annual report that has already been handed over to the supervising ministry. This is confirmation of the commitment to reposition the institution to meet stakeholder expectations and readers may want to learn that under the oversight of the board of directors, the WCFCB has put in place appropriate policies to guide the administration of the organisation.
The principles guiding the operations of the board include the following;
WCFCB has established norms and standards to evaluate the achievement of the institution’s mission, and a well-functioning system of redress that protects the interests of stakeholders and deters mismanagement and deviations from the institution’s mandate. Members are responsible, and hence accountable, for overseeing the operations.
WCFCB promotes availability and accessibility of accurate, essential and timely information to ensure that stakeholders are well informed of the true state of the fund and how it is being managed. Transparency in the decision-making process has promoted honesty, integrity and competence, and discouraged wrongdoing.
WCFCB ensures consistent application of the law and its supporting policies, rules and regulations. The rights and duties of members and beneficiaries are well defined, protected and consistently enforced.
WCFCB ensures active education, engagement and effective involvement of stakeholders to ensure the protection of their interests.
WCFCB is committed to the element of positive change in governance. Changing and improving on the status quo itself, by doing things more efficiently and equitably, and by responding to the evolving needs of members and beneficiaries, thereby creating new value.
The governance structure so established serves the interest of stakeholders who mainly consist of workers, employers, beneficiaries and government, among others. The interests are varied but most pressing of them is whether funds collected from employers are prudently managed to meet the objectives of WCFCB.
And to this, you might want to add whether workers contracting injuries and diseases in the course of employment are receiving their benefits, and whether or not the benefits are adequate. These are perhaps the million dollar questions pressing our stakeholders.
The author is head – communications and customer services at Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board. Email: email@example.com or call: 0212-621283.