As an employer in South Africa, do I need to Register for Workmen’s Compensation?



To answer the question that many employers in South Africa ask regarding whether they need to register for workmen’s compensation with the WCA, it is important to consider a few factors first.

Who is an Employer according to COIDA?

All persons who employ one or more employees are considered employers if they take part in business or farming activities, as according to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA).

The client is considered an employer when appointing a contractor to complete a task and therefore, a contractor is considered an employer as they also have employees working for them.

As an employer in South Africa do I need to Register for Workmen’s Compensation


Who is the Employee?

According to COIDA, a person who has entered, or works under a contract, service, apprenticeship, or learnership with an employer, whether the contract is either expressed or implied either orally or in writing, and whether remuneration is calculated by time or work done, or is in cash or in kind, and includes the following, is considered an employee:

  • Casual and/or temporary employees – who are employed for the purpose of the business, farming, organisational activities of the employer.
  • A working director of a company or a member of a close corporation/body corporate, who has entered a contract of service, apprenticeship, or learnership, in so far, the employee acts within the scope of their employment according to the terms of such a contract. This excludes any shareholder or ‘silent partners’ who only receive dividends or sharing profits.

In addition, a sole proprietor or those in a partnership are not regarded as employees as per COIDA and subsequently, their earnings should not be included.

There are, however, other exclusions from the definition of ‘employee’, and this includes:

  • Domestic workers.
  • People who are contracted for carrying out of work but engage others to do so on their behalf, such as subcontractors.
  • Members of either the National Defence Force (NDF) or the Police Service.
  • Anyone on ‘service in defence of the Republic’.
  • Anyone who performs military service or undergoes military training in the defence force.


What are earnings?

Earnings are all payments which are made regularly, before deductions, whether it is done in money or in kind, to employees.

As an employer in South Africa do I need to Register for Workmen’s Compensation image3

Employer requirements

Seven days after having employed and employee, an employer must register with the Commissioner. Employers are therefore legally obliged to register for workmen’s compensation. This is to ensure that employees, under COIDA, are protected and can receive compensation should they be disabled as result of occupational injuries and diseases, caused during their employment.

COIDA also protects employees should death result from such injuries and diseases and provides for all matters therewith connected.


How can SafetyWallet help Employers and Contractors’ Health and Safety Compliance?

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Posted date: 7th Mar 2021