NewsUncategorisedNavigating COIDA Returns and Employer Liability

Navigating COIDA Returns and Employer Liability

In the realm of business management, ensuring workplace safety and providing compensation for work-related injuries and diseases are fundamental obligations for employers under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COID) Act in South Africa. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of COIDA returns, shedding light on the rights of employees, the responsibilities of employers, and the legal framework governing compensation for occupational diseases, while also exploring employer liability in the context of independent contractors.

Understanding COIDA Returns:

COIDA returns, commonly known as ROEs or W.As.8 forms, serve as a means for employers to report their employees’ annual earnings to the Compensation Fund. The submission period spans from 1 April to 30 June each year. Upon submission, employers receive a Notice of Assessment/Invoice (W.As.6) indicating the amount owed to the Compensation Commissioner based on the information provided in the ROE.

Rights of Employees under COIDA:

Under section 22 of the Compensation for Occupational Diseases Act (COIDA), all employees have the right to compensation if they suffer injury, disability, or illness as a result of a workplace accident or work-related disease. An occupational disease is one that arises out of and is contracted in the course of employment, as listed in Schedule 3 of COIDA. This ensures that employees are adequately protected and compensated for any harm incurred in the workplace.

Employer Obligations and Liability:

The definition of an employee under COIDA encompasses anyone who has entered into a contract of service with an employer. However, the situation differs when it comes to independent contractors. Section 89 of COIDA delineates the obligations of both mandators (employers) and contractors regarding the registration and payment of assessments.

If a mandator engages a contractor for work and the contractor employs individuals for the execution of that work, the contractor must register as an employer and pay the necessary assessments under COIDA. Failure to do so results in the employees being deemed employees of the mandator, who then assumes liability for assessments and compensation.

Moreover, section 89(2) of COIDA allows a mandator who has paid assessments or compensation, which they would not have been liable for if the contractor had complied with COIDA, to recover these amounts from the contractor. This provision ensures that the party ultimately responsible for the employees’ welfare bears the financial burden of compensation.

Understanding Employer Liability for Independent Contractors:

In the realm of public liability, employers are typically held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. However, the situation differs when dealing with independent contractors. As established by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Chartaprops 16 (Pty) Ltd and another v Silberman (2009), employers are not inherently responsible for the negligence or wrongdoing of independent contractors mandated to perform tasks on their behalf.

The court emphasized that employers are only obligated to exercise the degree of care demanded by the circumstances and are not required to take additional steps beyond what is reasonably necessary to prevent foreseeable harm to the public. By engaging competent contractors, employers fulfill their duty of care, absolving them of liability for the contractor’s actions.


COIDA returns serve as a mechanism for employers to fulfill their obligations under the COID Act, ensuring that employees receive compensation for work-related injuries and diseases. Understanding the rights of employees, the obligations of employers, and the legal framework surrounding compensation is essential for navigating the complexities of COIDA compliance. By adhering to these principles and exercising due diligence, employers can create safer workplaces and protect the welfare of their employees, while also mitigating liabilities associated with independent contractors.

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