Columnists Features

Workers’Compensation introduces minimum pension

THE Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) has now implemented payment of minimum pension to its beneficiaries, following the approval of recommendations of the Government Actuaries Department (GAD) of the United Kingdom.
The payment of the minimum pension took effect during the January 2017 pay roll for beneficiaries of the Workers’ Compensation Scheme. Before implementation of the minimum pension, life pension payment for the lowest paid pensioner had gone down. This was mainly attributed to the erosion, over time, of the payments by inflation, exacerbated by a clear lack of periodic upward adjustment of the payments.
However, the good news is that a minimum monthly pension payment for the lowest paid has been introduced, and further, a pension increase policy to adjust the payments periodically has also been put in place.
In addition to these measures, all monthly pension payments will, going forward, be indexed to the consumer price index of Zambia (CPI) to avoid erosion of current and future payments. At present, the payments are indexed at 90 percent of CPI.
This is only the beginning of what we have previously promised, and it may not be significant in quantum terms, but certainly offers a better future for our clients.
In a bid to improve service quality, WCFCB is making frantic efforts to address customer value propositions that meet and probably exceed expectations, and we have in mind some of the recent propositions that we feel can certainly address customer needs.
For instance, the evacuation of pensioner Nicolas Mumba to India to seek specialist treatment on the recommendations of his doctors is testimony of how we are prepared to deliver high quality services to our clients.
Pensioner Mumba has been evacuated to India twice on the board’s cost, and he is only the first such client to receive this benefit, as part of his compensation package.
The returning of injured workers to good health by facilitating evacuations for specialist treatment at local and foreign medical facilities is a value proposition we have made much more recently to respond to societal needs.
Whilst on the other hand is pensioner Jethro Kasanda who is undergoing training, on the board’s cost, for his bar examinations at the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education. This is a pensioner who has been transformed from a school leaver, and general worker at the Zambia Railways Limited, to a law graduate by the board.
The returning of injured workers to work through sponsorships to pursue professional and academic courses at universities and colleges, is equally another value proposition we have made thus far.
There are numerous other improvements we have been adding to the system, including the upward adjustment of the threshold for eligibility to monthly pension payment     entitlement from 10 percent degree of disablement to 30 percent for workers contracting injuries and diseases in the work place.
These are some life changing stories that must be told to the world about the unique social security institution whose mandate has not been fully understood, and     to some extent, appreciated by majority citizens of our country despite its long history in Zambia.
This is attributed mainly to the historically low engagement levels with media practitioners who are supposed to inform, educate and even entertain citizens on the subject of workers’ compensation.
However, we are glad to inform readers that     management has now recognised media engagement as a key driver of the public awareness effort, hence the introduction of the institutional media awards, among other strategies.
These improvement measures have been implemented as a result of team work in the institution, especially by our dedicated and hardworking staff in the benefits directorate who facilitated the actuarial valuation of the fund to establish the capacity of the board to improve benefits for our customers.
There is no doubt in our minds that a great deal of work lies ahead, and what we have implemented is just a firm foundation for future improvements. We can now say     there is in place the necessary policies, systems and programmes to deliver high quality customer value propositions to the market.
The gloomy picture of the past is slowly fading and we do hope that with the support of our stakeholders, much more will be achieved. We are particularly focused on granting further upward adjustments to the monthly pensions to make them adequate to meet the needs of our clients.
The author is Head – Communications and Customer Services Manager at Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board

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