Contractors should have a COID (Compensation for injury on Duty) certificate. This certificate proves that the contractor has paid the Department of Labour for what amounts to an insurance against injuring his staff while they are working.

A short history lesson:

Normally an employee would be able to sue his employer for injuries that he sustained while working. The employer would need Employer’s Liability insurance for protection against such liability.

The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act No 130 of 1993 (COID Act) has transferred that liability from the employer onto the government (it also places serious limits on how much an employee can claim).

In other words, the COID Act has effectively eliminated the common law right of an employee to sue his employer for injury or diseases that arise in the work place because of an accident.

The purpose of the Act is, “To Provide for compensation for disablement caused by occupational injuries or diseases sustained or contracted by employees in the course of their employment, or for death resulting from such injuries or diseases; and to provide for matters connected therewith.”

COID still applies if the employee was acting contrary to any law applicable to his employment or to any instruction of his employer, if he was acting in the course of business.

This sounds like a good deal, from the employer’s point of view, so why would anyone not make use of this?

The problem comes in dealing with the department of labour. They are chronically inefficient.

In the past payment for COID cover was made annually, however the Department of Labour did not send out renewal notices. In the business of daily life people forgot about making payment and the cover lapsed. The department of Labour solved this problem by making the period of cover three months. Now the problem is that the department cannot get the renewal notices out fast enough, so contractors are unable to show a valid COID certificate. I think that the period of cover now varies from employer to employer, so one must look on the certificate to see the period of cover.

Ask to see your contractor’s COID certificate.

If he does not have one, do not use his services. The law is “Fuzzy” about who the injured employee can sue, you or the contractor, and the risk is not worth the trouble that can be caused.

If he has an expired COID certificate and can show that he has paid for the updated certificate you can probably use his services. The period of cover is likely to be the same as the period of the expired certificate. Note that the contractor must pay for all the period from the expired certificate to the current certificate. He cannot have a certificate for last year and then produce proof of payment for the current three months. He must show payment for all the months since the last COID certificate.

If the contractor has a current COID certificate, all is well.

One last point. The COID certificate must cover the full period that the contractor works for you. If not, you must diarise to check that he pays for his cover when it is due.


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