NSITF reels off compensation guidelines for injured workers
Under the Employees Compensation Act (ECA) 2010, payment for injury sustained at the work place is guided by the provisions of section 26 (6) of the Act.
The Managing Director of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Adebayo Somefun, who was reacting to requests for enhancement of care at medical facilities by injured workers, explained that treatment for injury sustained in the workplace has limitation to safeguard the integrity of the contribution of all employers of labour.
Somefun said while treatment is not limited, it is guided by the principle of reasonableness which was why section 26(6) of the Act stated that the fees charged must not be reasonable and within what employees can afford to pay if they were paying for the treatment themselves.
Indeed, section 26(6) of the Employees Compensation Act 2010 provides: “The fees or remuneration for health care provided under this section shall not be more than the fee that would be properly and reasonably charged if the employee were paying, and the Board may, from time to time, fix and determine the amount, on the advise of the Minister charged with responsibility for health.”
The NSITF boss highlighted that the section was inserted to prevent abuse of the procedure as well as ensuring that treatments are not too exorbitant beyond the capacity of the pooled resources. He added: “Being a social security system, we are obliged to treat, rehabilitate and even pay spouses of workers that die in line of duty. While we are doing that, there are also checks in the Act that establishes the Scheme about how much can be paid for treatment and what medical aids can be accessed.
For instance, the Fund cannot sustain hearing aids that cost more than N100million with maintenance fee that is about quarter of that. We have some people that have this kind of challenge. While we will continue to pay such person until they are 55 years and give them quality medical attention, we are not in a position to provide such expensive aids to such persons. We must bear in mind that that this scheme is a social scheme that get money from contributing employers. Our resources are limited hence the need to provide comfort to workers that sustain injury but that should not be done in such a way to endanger the scheme which would be injurious to other people and the system.”
The NSITF chief stressed that it is imperative to explain that the ECA 2010, establishes a social insurance scheme “to make provisions for compensations for any death, injury, disease or disability arising out of or in the course of employment.” He added that the Act also provides compensation to the dependant of an employee who dies in the course of employment, and NSITF is mandated to implement the compliance activities inherent in the ECA 2010 as well as the funds created under section 56 of the Act.
Somefun disclosed that at the moment, cases of workplace accidents, injuries and diseases are being promptly treated as they are reported in full compliance with the provisions of the Act and to the satisfaction of stakeholders in pursuit of the objectives of the ECA 2010.He further stated that the Act establishing the Scheme with dispatch and immediately paid the arrears of disability benefit and continues to pay monthly allowance that corresponds with the information employer provided to the Fund on enrolment and that such payment will continue until workers reach the age of 55 years.
However, Somefun clarified that the Board neither influences the cost charges of hospitals nor commands a favouritism of lowered treatment costs. The NSITF helmsman added: “It merely supervises, directs and controls the medical bill or treatments of the employee by approved healthcare specialists or practitioners (as provided by section 27 (2) (4) of the Act).”
He urged workers to take advantage of the appeal procedure established in section 55 of the ECA 2010.He assured that NSITF will continue to provide an open and fair system of guaranteed and adequate compensation for all employees for any injury, disease or disability arising out of or in the course of employment for their dependants in case of death and every other benefit inclusive in the scheme.