In June 1990 the government of The Gambia passed into law the injuries compensation Act. This effectively improved on and replaced the workman’s compensation Act of 1940. However, it was not until in July 1996 that the new scheme was formally launched introducing a social insurance scheme for protection against employment injury.
The Act establishing the industrial injuries compensation scheme applies to all employers and workers in.
– Public enterprises
– Local Government authorities, and
– Private sector
The industrial injuries compensation Act does not apply to:
– Casual workers on piece meal contracts
– Domestic workers
– Members of employer’s family dwelling in employer’s house
– Out workers
All employers mentioned above must ensure that all their workers are covered under the scheme.
Registration forms must be filled in respect of all such workers. However, there is no need to complete registration forms for workers who are already registered with either the provident or pension fund, as the information required under the injuries compensation scheme is already available to SSHFC with either the provident or pension fund, although it is advisable that it be updated periodically especially when one’s family circumstances change.
The Act requires employers to pay the entire contribution each month on behalf of their workers. At present the contribution rate is 1% of total earnings. That is salary plus all other allowances subject to maximum contribution ceiling of D15.00. However, if a worker’s total earning exceeds D1500 per month, the contribution payable is limited to D15.00. Note that the entire contribution shall be borne by the employer. Nothing shall be deducted from the earnings of the workers.
SSHFC and the Labour Department are the main administrators of the scheme with the Social Welfare and Medical and Health Departments, and Department of State for Justice providing specialist support services and advice and an industrial Tribunal.
As trustees, the corporation ensures registration, collects contributions and pays compensation.
Labour Department has responsibility to inspect work site to ensure safety and prevention of accidents and diseases at work. Also initiates claims by collating all information with respect to potential claimant and forward to SSHFC for payment.
MEDICAL AND HEALTH DEPARTMENT
The Medical and Health Department provides treatment to injured workmen and advice on the degree of incapacity, the basis of compensation, in case of injuries unspecified in the schedule to the Act.
Compensation shall be payable to a workman who suffers an industrial injury or disease that incapacitates him for a period of at least five consecutive days. This includes any personal injury as a result of an accident whilst the workman is commuting to and from work within a reasonable time using the most direct route and reasonable means of transport walking for the purpose of his employment.
SOCIAL WELFARE DEPARTMENT
If an injured worker loss his/her limb (s), the Social Welfare Department are charged with the task of rehabilitating them in the use of artificial limbs and retraining to become functional once more as well as offering them counseling services.
This tribunal is charged with the task of resolving disputes arising out of the administration of the fund. Aggrieved parties can make representations to the tribunal.
WORKER’S/SUPERVISOR’S ROLE IN THE PROCESS
When a claim is required, the injured worker on his supervisor reports the accident to the employer within one month. The Act does not, however, stop any injured workmen from reporting an injury directly to the commissioner’s official within the specified time frame.
THE EMPLOYER’S ROLE
The employer also makes arrangements for medical treatment and obtains the final medical report. He also provides the statement of worker’s earning for the twelve (12) months preceding the accident and reports the accident to the commissioner of injuries.
THE LABOUR DEPARTMENT’S ROLE
The commissioner of injuries ensures that his office makes an initial investigation into the reported accident, determines the legitimacy of the claim for compensation and subsequently refers claim to SSHFC with all relevant documentation for settlement.
THE ROLE OF THE MEDICAL AUTHORITY
The medical Authority provides treatment to the injured worker conducts medical examinations and determines the schedule to the Act which becomes basis for determination of the compensation due.
THE ROLE OF SSHFC IN THE PROCESS
Upon receipt of a claim file from the office of the commissioner of injuries, the SSHF as trustees of the fund verifies the claim to establish validity of claim, pays injured workmen or his/her survivors the compensation due.
TYPES AND LEVELS OF COMPENSATION
Compensation is paid in respect of:
– Death/fatal accident
– Permanent Total Incapacity
– Constant attendance allowance
– Temporary incapacity (total/partial)
Where death occurs as a result of an accident or occupational disease 120 months of the deceased member’s earnings, as defined in the Act is paid to beneficiaries subject to maximum earning of D1500 per month or D100, 000 whichever is greater.
PERMANENT TOTAL INCAPACITY
If the injury permanently and totally incapacitates a worker then he will enjoy 60% of his/her earning as monthly pension subject to a maximum earning of D1500 per monthly. In any case minimum monthly pension is D100.00.
CONTANT ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE
If the injured worker needs somebody to attend to him/her then 25% of pension is payable in addition to the monthly pension.
PERMANENT PARTIAL INCAPACITY
The same rate applies as in the case of permanent Total Incapacity:
With incapacity of 20% or more a periodic pension is guaranteed for life.
With incapacity less than 20% a single lump sum payment is made.
In case of temporary incapacity compensation is paid for a period of 6 months.
With total temporary incapacity60% of earnings are paid for a period of 6 months.
With partial temporary incapacity and injured worker receives 60% of difference between pre-accident and post-accident wage of worker or wage determined by the commissioner of injuries whichever is greater.
MEDICAL CHARGES/COST OF MEDICAL TREATMENT
The reasonable medical costs as a result of injury caused by an accident arising out of and in the cause of employment shall be met jointly by the employer (25%) and the injuries compensation fund (75%) or D10,000 whichever less. In the case of an evacuation the approval of the Director of Medical and Health Services must be obtained.
DAMAGES AWARDED BY THE COURTS
When the injury for which compensation is payable under the Act, the circumstances of which make the employer legally liable, such that the workman may recover damages in an action at law, such workman may regardless of the injuries compensation Act pursue and recover damages from the courts.
However, recovery of damages from the courts is a bar to payment of compensation under this Act unless and until fifty percent (50%) of the amount of such damages is paid by the court or by the workman or some person acting on behalf of the injured workman to the injuries compensation fund.
When a claim is received for damages by any court, that court shall notify the commissioner of such claim.
Within 14 days of receipt of such notification the commissioner shall if satisfied that compensation under this Act is being paid to the claimant, notify the court of the court of law of that fact.
Where a court is in receipt of notification by the commissioner and subsequently makes an award of damages in respect of the claim to which such notification relates, the courts shall order the person liable to pay such damages, to pay 50% of such damages to the claimant and 50%to the injuries compensation fund.