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WHY ALL WORK-RELATED INJURIES MUST BE PAID FOR BY WORKERS COMPENSATION INSURANCE

By Alhaj Kaddunabbi Ibrahim Lubega

Just like Motor Third Party Insurance is mandatory for all motorists driving on Ugandan roads, Workers’ Compensation insurance is also mandatory for all businesses operating in Uganda, irrespective of size.

This is provided for under section 18 of the Workers Compensation Act, which provides for compensation to workers for injuries suffered or diseases contracted in the course of their employment and death. This law applies to all employees within Uganda, with the exception of active members of the armed forces.

Under the Act, the employer is responsible for personal injury by accident if it arises out of and in the course of a worker’s employment.

Apart from it being compulsory, workers compensation insurance cover has immense benefits to employers including protecting them from liability if their employees are injured in the course of duty.  It transfers the financial risk of a workplace injury or accident to an insurance company the employer insured with.

The Workers Compensation insurance cover provides coverage for employees’ lost wages and medical bills and provides death benefits for the employee’s dependents if they are killed in a work-related accident where payment of up to 60 months employee’s salary is made.

It also limits the liability associated with facing lawsuits for workplace-related injuries or illnesses.

The above benefits notwithstanding, however, most employers in Uganda are yet to take up this insurance cover. This has seen many continue to drain their budgets to foot the hefty medical bills of the injured employees and court cases that are brought against them.

The fact that workplace injuries are unpredictable, workers’ compensation insurance becomes crucial and a must have by all employers.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 2.9 million workers die annually due to occupational accidents and diseases, and at least 402 million people suffer from non-fatal occupational injuries. Additionally, 317 million accidents occur on the job annually and many of these result into extended absence from work.

According to Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, these estimates indicate that 4% of Gross Domestic Product is lost due to accidents and work-related diseases.

What do you do in case of injury?

In case of workplace injuries, employers should report to their insurer as quickly as possible, even when the injury seems minor. This is because what seems like a minor injury can turn into something more complex. Upon reporting, the insurance company takes over the process, allowing the employer to focus on running their business.

You should, however, note that this insurance policy does not cover employees injured while under the influence of any intoxicating substance such as alcohol and drugs. It also excludes injuries sustained during a workplace fight with a colleague.

To quicken the compensation process, Cabinet approved the proposed principles for the amendment of the Workers’ Compensation Act, Cap 255, which seeks to streamline the assessment, compensation and awards to workers for injuries and diseases acquired during the course of employment.

Cap 255 provides for compensation to workers for injuries suffered and scheduled diseases incurred in the course of employment.

The amendments are expected to improve the assessment, compensation and enforcement of necessary steps in promoting industrial harmony and protection of human rights.

Affordability

Workers’ compensation premiums are affordable given that they are based on the risk of a business combined with the value of what is being insured with respect to the salaries and wages of the employees.

I thus encourage all employers to buy workers’ compensation insurance to guard against unpredictable work-related injuries and have peace of mind. Moreover, not buying it puts you on the wrong side of the law.