Women, including nurses, most affected by Covid-19 at work: Compensation Fund

09 July 2020 - 13:08 By Iavan Pijoos
Women are bearing the biggest brunt of contracting Covid-19 at work, claims to the labour department's Compensation Fund show.
Women are bearing the biggest brunt of contracting Covid-19 at work, claims to the labour department's Compensation Fund show.
Image: 123rf/ ammentorp

The majority of claims lodged with the labour department's Compensation Fund in all nine provinces so far are from women — with nurses on the front line bearing the biggest brunt of contracting Covid-19 at work.

Department spokesperson Teboho Thejane said more than 80% of claims lodged were from women.

Thejane said the fund has received a total of 941 claims to date with the highest number coming from the Western Cape, which has recorded 657 claims.

Of the 941 claims, 533 are from women.

In the Eastern Cape, 99 claimants are women out of a total of 127 claims received.

In KwaZulu-Natal a total of 98 claims were received with a total of 92 women affected.

A total of 46 out of 54 claimants were women in Gauteng.

Limpopo and North West have recorded two claims each, both of which were from women, while Mpumalanga has recorded one claim, also from a woman.

Thejane said to date the fund has paid out R202,172.35 in medical aid costs.

He said other claims were received through Rand Mutual and Federated Employers, bringing the overall total to 1,435 claims received.

“We are aware that our front line workers like nurses and other medical staff have been affected by the pandemic. We will like to send the appeal for employers to ensure that workers are adequately protected and are given the necessary protective gear to do their jobs,” employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi said.

“Our figures show that most affected employees are nurses who are paying the ultimate price so that we get a second chance and survive the pandemic,” 

Nxesi said the department’s inspection and enforcement services have “upped” their in-loco inspections to ensure that workers are protected and that Covid-19 safety regulations are followed.

According to Nxesi, compliance rates were hovering at 57% for the private sector and 47% for the public sector.

He said the public sector has been served with a total of 88 prohibitions [shutdowns], 363 contraventions and 87 improvement notices while the private sector has seen 45 prohibitions, 339 improvement notices and 1,210 contraventions.

“Equally, workers should refuse to work under dangerous conditions,” said Nxesi. “Just this week, a company that flouted labour laws and did not adhere to lockdown regulations was found guilty and fined. It was the workers in that company who blew the whistle and both employer and employee have a responsibility for health and safety, albeit with differing roles.”