Minerals Council SA says proposed penalty in worker compensation bill “too harsh”

THE Minerals Council South Africa told parliament that proposed penalties tabled in the Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill were too harsh, according to a report by BusinessLive.

The penalty should employers fail to report an accident to the Compensation Fund within seven days amounted to 10% of actual or estimated annual earnings of the company for that particular year, said the newspaper.

“If the new proposed provision remains unqualified it will have draconian consequences,” said the head of health at the Minerals Council, Dr. Thuthula Balfour. The proposed penalty did not “… give the commissioner any discretion to impose a lesser penalty in the event there is a valid reason for not reporting,” Balfour said.

Balfour proposed instead that the penalty of 10% is limited to the earnings of the employee(s) involved in the accident and that this be the maximum that may be imposed.

“A discretion should be given to the commissioner to determine the penalty,” Balfour said. “As worded, it is not clear whether the calculation of the penalty refers to the actual earnings of all the employees of the employer or only the earnings of the particular employee(s) involved in the accident inquiry. The proposed provision, therefore, lacks clarity which is required in terms of the rule of law.

“We are moving into a regime which has got very blanket penalties. Contraventions are different: some are minor, others are more serious. Our general approach is that we should have grading (of penalties) and they should not be blanket,” Balfour said.