Our reader this week asks if it is possible to report an accident as an Injury on Duty (IOD) when it has taken place outside of normal office hours, but is related to one’s job.
The female employee, a manager for a large first world firm, is actively involved in her company’s extramural and teambuilding activities, which include golfing, touch rugby and action cricket.
A few months ago, she played cricket against a very strong and experienced team. During the game, she had a nasty fall, landing with her full weight on her left knee. The pain was excruciating and the next day her injured knee was also badly swollen.
Despite self-medication with anti-inflammatory tablets and pain killers, she could no longer endure the discomfort and, when the swelling failed to improve and impacted on walking, she finally visited a specialist.
Our reader was told that she would need an operation, as the knee had sustained a small crack in the bone and severe cartilage damage. The procedure necessitated two weeks’ sick leave.
Unfortunately, a follow-up visit some months later has revealed that the first operation was not completely successful and a second procedure is therefore necessary. Our reader’s medical aid, however, will be exhausted as a result.
After reading our articles on IODs recently, the employee wonders if she should have reported her accident as an IOD, even though it took place outside of her usual working hours.
The reason, she explains, why she did not report it initially, is because a colleague warned her against doing so, saying that reporting IODs put the company in a bad light and affected an annual rating they were awarded.
Our reader did not want to compromise her relationship with management and staff and did not report the incident.
However, our reader was representing her company in a sports event on the night of her injury; she was part of the company team and her injury is most definitely an IOD.
Had she reported it the following day, her medical aid would not have been exhausted, as all medical expenses would have been covered.
Personally, I am unaware of an institution that acts as a watchdog in terms of how many IODs a company reports. However, since she works for a first world company, perhaps this relates to an internal rating system.
This, however, should not prevent an employee from reporting an IOD, as the procedure is there to assist staff members who sustain injuries on duty and does not place any burden on companies or fellow employees.
The IOD process shifts all responsibility to the Compensation Commissioner and our reader may therefore still be compensated if a case of temporary or permanent incapacity is found.
If the incident is reported within the 12-month window period following the accident, she will still be able to claim back any reasonable costs incurred, as well as having her medical aid reimbursed for all approved expenses which she can prove they have covered.
I do not feel that any internal rating system should make an employee feel uncomfortable about reporting an IOD.
IODs should be treated as soon after the injury as possible, as these rating systems do not take into consideration the long term effects that an untreated injury can have on an employee’s life.
It is there to unburden the employer and should thus be made use of to the benefit of the employee.
Send your labour and injury on duty questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Booysen & Rossouw Attorneys in Port Elizabeth specialises in labour related legislation. The firm also covers injury on duty cases as well as all other aspects of the law.
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