GETHSEMANE MWIZABI, Ndola
BEING a robust and one of the best managed social security schemes in Zambia, the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) has continued to receive high profile visits from various stakeholders within and outside the country.
Fresh from scooping three awards (1st Prize Best Insurance Company, 2nd Prize Best Public Service Exhibit and 3rd Prize Non-Banking Financial Institution) at the recent Zambia Agricultural Commercial Show, the Board has continued to register key milestones in areas of Benefits, Rehabilitation, Occupational health and safety, Fund Management and investment.
Various stakeholders have from time to time been consulting the Board on key areas on revolving around compensation benefits.
One such high level visit has been from a delegation from Malawi and Mozambique, which came to acquaint itself with operations of WCFCB.
The visit was facilitated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Lusaka which is a country office for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. The delegation interacted extensively with management led by acting WCFCB Commissioner Michelo Silungwe, who said the Board was open to any consultations from stakeholders.
The consultations focused on key areas of Board operations like fund management, compensation, rehabilitation, safety and return to work programmes.
The delegation comprised of Kelvin Nyangula (Labour Commissioner Malawi), Arther Nkhulungulu (director works- Workers’ Compensation – Malawi, George Mukosiku (ILO National Programmes Officer-Zambia), Patricia Chilaisha (Chief Labour inspector of Factories- Ministry of Labour and Social Security) and Shelly Malyenge (Principal Labour officer-Ndola). Others were Assuana Jorge Coutinho (Labour Inspector-Ministry of Labour Mozambique), Flavia Saide Agustinho (Labour Inspector-Ministry of Labour Mozambique) and Jose Pinto (Portuguese translator).
They were elated by the robust operations of the WCFCB, a social security scheme responsible for compensating workers in respect of accidents suffered and disease contracted during the course of employment in accordance with the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act No. 10 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia. Their main interest was to learn how Zambia has structured its compensation system.
In Malawi for example, workers compensation falls under a government department. There is no functioning fund where a pool of workers is compensated when injury occurs. Instead employers compensate injured workers directly.
“It was an eye opener for me. There are some things, I will carry home with me so they could be implemented,” said Malawi’s Labour Commissioner Kelvin Nyasulu.
The delegation was fascinated by the prudent administration and investment of the fund saying of all their visits in Zambia, the WCFCB one was an eye opener.
Further, the delegation was informed about the Return to Work progrmme which is critically important to the recovery of lost earning capacities of injured workers.
As Manager Rehabilation and Occupational Health Chansa Kapema, put it to the delegation, the focus is to return injured workers to employment for them to continue earning steady income, and supporting their families than sustaining them on monthly pensions, which in most cases are not equal to lost earnings.
On Return to Good Health Programmes, the deligation was informed of how WCFCB entered into partnerships with high rated health service providers.
The Board compensates employers with medical costs reasonably and necessarily incurred by them at private and public health institutions on treatment and hospitalisation of workers disabled by occupational accidents.
On Lumpsum Payments, the delegation leant of how WCFCB provides lump sum, to workers for static or permanent injuries assessed by a Medical Assessment Board at 10 percent or less degree of disability.
As regards to life pension; the delegation was keen to know how the Board awards life pension benefits, which are drawn monthly until death to workers for static or permanent injuries or diseases.
The delegation was glad to know that surviving spouses of workers were granted widow’s or widower’s pension drawn monthly until death or remarriage.
On children allowances, the delegation was informed of how allowances were paid to children below 18 years. This was in addition to monthly pension granted to surviving spouses of workers who die as a result of occupational accidents and diseases.
Ultimately, the visiting delegation described WCFCB a wonderful case study and hoped to push for reforms in their own countries, from lessons learnt.
The author is a communications officer at Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board.