Industry bodies like the National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA) and COIDLink have raised concerns about the possible negative impact on job creation if amendments in the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment (COIDA) Bill are accepted as they are.

The Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour listened to oral presentations from different organisations yesterday virtually on the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment (COIDA) Bill

Mr Gerhard Papenfus, of the National Employers Association of South Africa, told the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour today during the virtual public hearings that the organisation was vehemently opposed to Section 43 of the Amendment Bill as it will collapse the only elements of the Act that were working.

In the end, he said: “The employees will suffer the most. New beneficiaries will be excluded from quality healthcare since the current system cannot cope any way.” He said he doubted domestic workers will benefit in any way as is envisaged in the Bill.

Mr Papenfus said if the Bill was processed as it is, it will result in litigation costs that will go into millions of rands, especially on account of valid claims. He said the reasons for the amendments were not articulated clearly, and that would likely fail given the inefficiencies in the system.

Other matters that the National Employers Association of South Africa was concerned about was the possible removal of third party administrators from the system, the quality of healthcare for employees, the death of businesses associated with third parties, and the delay in payments to medical practitioners.

Mr Papenfus clarified that third parties do not derive a cent from the government and that they assist businesses and medical practitioners. He said: “They are an irritation to the Compensation Fund, and they get money through litigation. This is the reason the fund wants them out of the system.”

COIDLink’s Board Chairperson, Mr Gideon Nkadimeng, said the proposed section will negatively affect workers, job creation and medical practitioners. “Most workers in rural areas rely on third party administrators and the amendments will result in them being turned away, and having to resort to regional public healthcare facilities which are already under strain,” he said.

He said the amendments, as they are, will most likely destroy jobs and livelihoods of claims administrators, and result in the closure of businesses, and have a direct impact on supply chain processes. “That will lead to further job losses,” he said.

Mr Nkadimeng said the Bill will eliminate emerging black medical providers who will be unwilling to attend to clients if they are not paid on time as they lack financial resources. “The proposed legislation will mean that only well-established medical businesses will be able to benefit and carry out treatments. These amendments will immediately render all pre-funding of valid claims null and void; administrators will forfeit their right to valid claims submitted to the fund,” he said.

He said there were no immediate benefits or long-term benefits, and pleaded that until a comprehensive study had been done, the new section should be removed. He also recommended that companies that provide pre-funding should be acknowledged, licensed and regulated by the fund.

The committee sought clarity on a number of issues, including the effect legal challenges will have, whether unemployment could affect medical practitioners, and how the licensing of pre-funders would happen and whether it will make the service better than it is.

Committee Member, Ms Khosi Mkhonto, raised concerns about claim administrators meeting administrative requirements, and whether they will be transparent with pre-funding. She asked if licensing will not further marginalise the small role players.

The Chairperson, Ms Lindelwa Dunjwa, pointed out that the system’s inefficiencies were being dealt with.

Other organisations that presented on the first day included the Minerals Council South Africa and the Women’s Legal Centre.

The public hearings will continue tomorrow.

By Sibongile Maputi
21 April 2021