Columnists Features

Who’s covered under the workers’ compensation system?

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CORNER with MAYBIN NKHOLOMBA
NORMALLY when we talk about covering workers against employment related injuries and diseases under the current workers’ compensation system, we mean those workers defined in the Workers’ Compensation Act No. 10 of 1999 of the Laws of Zambia.
Such workers are defined as being eligible for compensation if and when they contract injuries and diseases in the course of their employment. The Workers’ Compensation Act restricts definition of a worker for the purpose of compensation to mean;
Any person who has entered into or works under a contract of service or apprenticeship or learnership with an employer, whether the contract is expressed or implied, is oral or in writing, and whether the remuneration is calculated by time or by work done, or is in cash or in kind.
The definition includes any person whose occupation is conveying for gain, persons or goods by means of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft, the use of which that person has obtained under any contract other than a purchase or a hire purchase agreement.
Also whether or not the remuneration of the person under such a contract is partly an agreed sum and partly a share in takings, but does not include any person whose remuneration is fixed solely by a share in takings.
We bring out the definition of a worker for compensation purposes to attend to inquiries made regarding the extent of coverage provided under the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB).
A number of compensable incidences have not been reported by employers on account of insufficient information especially those incidences relating to injuries affecting persons on temporary employment, oral contracts and even persons undertaking apprenticeships in industry.
The liability of compensating this category of workers, is passed much in the same way, as workers on fixed term contracts or permanent employment, to WCFCB. Employers are required to declare the number of casual workers including those on oral contracts and apprenticeships if the liability has to be passed on to WCFCB.
Readers will be interested to know that persons employed in occupations, which previously were only considered to be for entertainment and fun purposes, are now being compensated in the same manner as all other trades.
We have in mind occupations such as football, netball, boxing and music where we recently have received accident reports for compensation purposes.
We must confirm that many incidences in these occupations have in the past gone unreported and several eligible workers and their immediate families have not accessed compensation as a result of ignorance. Employers in these occupations may have not identified hazards associated with their trade and as a result are unable to appreciate the need for them to be covered against injuries and diseases occurring in the course of employment.
However, we need to point out that hazards for all social, economic and political activities that threaten the lives of workers have been identified and classified in the rates of assessment for 2014 and a copy of the Government Gazette is available at the Government Printer.
Let me explain that workers compensation cover, as a starting point, absorbs the employer from the liability of meeting expenses that arise out of treatment and hospitalisation of injured workers including compensating of victims of occupational accidents and diseases. Employers transfer the liability of compensating workers to the central fund administered by WCFCB by registration and payment of assessments every financial year. Now by not registering and paying assessments, employers do not transfer the liability, and effectively do not contribute to the establishment of e central fund.
Justice will not be done if we do not inform you of workers who are not covered under WCFCB, those persons not included in the definition of a worker under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Act excerpts from the definition of a worker the following;
Any person in the Zambia Police Service or public service; public service of any government  or authority specified by the minister, by statutory notice; member of the Defence Force of Zambia.
Any person employed casually by an employer and not in connection with the employer’s trade or business. Any person to whom articles or materials are given out by an employer to be made up, cleaned, washed, ornamented, finished or repaired or adapted for sale on premises not under control of the employer.
The author is Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board Corporate Affairs and Customer Services Manager.
Email: mnkholomba@workers.com.zm.

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