Landmark compensation ruling for domestic workers
Domestic workers could soon be able to claim money from the Compensation Fund if they are injured or contract a disease at their places of work. Their families will also be able to claim if they die due to work-related injuries or illnesses, notes a Business Insider report.
This is the upshot of a landmark case in the Gauteng High Court in which Sylvia Mahlangu – daughter and sole dependent of Maria Mahlangu, a domestic worker who died at her employer’s home – succeeded against the Department of Labour.
Mahlangu was claiming compensation for her death. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act expressly excluded domestic workers employed in private homes from the definition of ‘employee’, effectively cutting domestic workers off from claiming from the Compensation Fund.
The High Court found it was unconstitutional for domestic workers to be excluded as ‘employees’.
Although the Department of Labour proposed to make amendments to the Act to include domestic employees last year, the case is significant, according to Kelebogile Khunou, a researcher at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) that represented Mahlangu.
‘We also want the matter to be declared retrospectively, in other words that it would be applicable to Sylvia’s case,’ said Khunou.
If this declaration goes into effect, then the Department of Labour would need to enforce employers to register domestic workers under the Act and pay a percentage of their employees’ wages into the fund.
‘Next, the High Court declaration will need to be seen by the Constitution Court. We are still waiting for a date to be confirmed,’ said Khunou.
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