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Government reviews compensation scheme for sick and injured employees

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has offered the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health Services (DOSHS) an initial conditional grant of USD 2,800(Sh302,000) to kickstart social dialogue on reviewing Kenya’s compensation systems.

The grant will go towards reviewing and transforming the country’s work injury, diseases and ill-health compensation system from the current employer liability-based to a social insurance based compensation system.

Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection Simon Chelugui said the grant was given following a consideration of a Concept Note that was developed by DOSHS and submitted to ILO requesting for assistance to improve the compensation system in the country.

Chelugui who was speaking in his office at NSSF building during a virtual meeting said the objective of the concept is to establish an occupational disease fund that will eventually culminate in a social insurance-based employment injury scheme for workers.

The meeting whose participants included the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Parliamentary Committee on Labour and Social Protection, the Attorney General Chambers, Federation of Kenya Employers, Central Organization of Trade Unions, the National Treasury, Council of Governors, National Social Security Fund and experts from ILO, was convened to discuss the policy shift, to propose and engage other stakeholders in managing the shift.

“The arrangement that has been there for a long time is based on employer liability where the employer is charged and entrusted to compensate any worker who is injured or contracts a disease during the course of his duty,” said Chelugui.

Chelugui said the arrangement has been a problem since the uptake has always been very slow due to the fightback by the employers while trying to defend themselves.

He said the practice emerging currently is that organisations are moving from employer liability to social-insurance based compensation system.

Chelugui said the social insurance system was good because all employers will be paid a disease fund and will also make contributions whenever there is a case of an injury adding that at least employers will now have a fund to count on.

“This fund will now solve the cases where some insurance firms close down and cases that take too long to recover or recur much later after the organizations have closed shop,” said the CS and added that the fund will now take care of the present and future injuries that my recur in cases where a private insurance winds up their businesses.

He said the scheme whose envisioned plan is to see the fund take care of a victim for a period including livelihood sustenance, will also involve the pooling of risks by all employers based on the principal of social solidarity.

The CS said the social insurance based scheme is premised on a periodic payment such as the Inua Jamii payment where beneficiaries receive money under social protection, singling out some people who are living with disability after suffering injuries at work places.

Chelugui at the same time noted that the social scheme will also help to safeguard the employer from any blame as well as protect workers who may be injured during their course of duty.

“We are coming up with a number of follow ups that we would be able to pursue as we seek to move towards standardizing and borrowing experiences given by ILO expert on the policy. We also intend to engage other stakeholders to enable us come up with a good policy,” he added.

By Bernadette Khaduli

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