EXPLAINER | Can I claim compensation if I contract Covid-19 at work?

An employee who contracts Covid-19 at work will be entitled to claim compensation.
An employee who contracts Covid-19 at work will be entitled to claim compensation.
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    • An employee who contracts Covid-19 at work will be entitled to claim compensation.
    • Compensation shall be given according to how severely the person has been affected by the virus.
    • The directive came into effect on 23 July 2020.


    As the economy continues to reopen following a strict coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown, more people are returning to work. This means more people are at an occupational risk of contracting the virus.

    The department of employment and labour issued a directive in the Government Gazette stating that any employee who contracts the coronavirus will be entitled to claim compensation if it is contracted in the course of their employment.

    Read more | What you can do if you’ve tested positive for Covid-19 and are recovering at home

    “All employees, regardless of occupation, are entitled to make a claim for compensation in the event that they contract Covid-19 at the workplace.”

    Employees who contract Covid-19 through “work-related exposure, being exposed to work-related trip or while performing one's work-related duties” are also eligible to claim. 

    As per the new regulations, certain criteria will be taken into consideration when assessing, and occupations are divided into four categories when it comes to the risk of exposure.

    Compensation will be distributed according to how severely the person has been affected by the virus and the fund will not pay out for people who have unconfirmed cases or for those who are in self-isolation or self-quarantine because of suspected exposure.

    For confirmed cases and where the Compensation Fund has accepted liability, workers will be paid from the date of diagnosis up to 30 days.

    Read more | “My salary dropped as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown - this is how I’m surviving”

    In a statement, minister of employment and labour Thulas Nxesi encouraged workers to refuse working under unsafe conditions.

    “Equally, workers should refuse to work under dangerous conditions. 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,” Nxesi said.

    The minister added that the department’s Inspection and Enforcement Service has increased inspections to ensure that workers are protected and that Covid-19 safety regulations are followed.

    The labour department also said that in the event of the death of an employee exposed to the virus while at work, a claim can be put in for “reasonable burial expenses”.

    The claims can be made either manually or online.

    *The directive came into effect on 23 July 2020 and will remain in operation while the declaration of Covid-19 as a national disaster remains in place, or the minister withdraws it. Click here to access it.