The Compensation Commissioner has issued the Notice on Compensation for Occupationally-Acquired Novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) to clarify the position of the Compensation Fund with regards to occupationally-acquired Covid-19. The notice comes into effect immediately.

The notice applies only to COVID-19 acquired by employees arising out of and in the course of the employees' employment through exposure to confirmed cases in the workplace or after an official work trip to a high risk country or area.

To qualify for benefits from the Compensation Fund, the following criteria must be met:

  1. the diagnosis must be as a result of occupational exposure to a known source of Covid-19;
  2. the Covid-19 must be diagnosed as per the World Health Organisation guidelines;
  3. the Covid-19 diagnosis must be linked to an approved official trip and travel history to high risk areas or countries on a work assignment or linked to a presumed high-risk work environment where transmission of Covid-19 is inherently prevalent; and
  4. a chronological sequence must exist between the work exposure and the development of Covid-19 symptoms.

The Compensation Fund will compensate qualifying employees who are temporarily disabled from working as a result of Covid-19 for a period of up to 30 days from the date of diagnosis.

The Compensation Fund will not pay for cases that have not been diagnosed and where self-quarantine is recommended by a registered Medical Practitioner, the employer is liable for the employee's remuneration for the days of absence.

Where an employee has been diagnosed with Covid-19, such employee will be provided with medical aid for a period of up to 30 days from the date of diagnosis.

If an employee dies as a result of complications from Covid-19, the Compensation Fund shall pay out reasonable burial expenses and widow and dependent's pensions, where applicable.

In essence, the notice confirms that Covid-19 cases which arise out of and in the course of an employee's employment will be regarded as occupational diseases for purposes of COIDA.

This bulletin was authored by Fasken associate Owethu Mbambo and reviewed by partner Melanie Hart.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.