By Obioma C. Appolos
In preparation to maximally attract compliance and also serve the general public better, the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), has sought the collaboration of the Nigeria Industrial Court on enforcement of Employees’ Compensation Scheme which was constitutionally put in place for the benefit of workers.
Employees’ Compensation Act (ECA) 2010; the law that backs the scheme, says that employers shall make a 1 percent mandatory contribution to the Fund, to augment for treatment or compensation to any worker who suffers hazardous accidents such as injury, disease, disability or death.
The Managing Director/ Chief Executive of the Fund, Barr. Adebayo Somefun, who recently paid a courtesy visit to the Acting President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip, made case for the collaboration.
While he drew the attention of the judge to the legitimacy of the Court to handle such issues as the one in fore, the NSITF Boss, further expressed concerns that despite taking up its responsibility of compensating employees who unfortunately found themselves among any of the under listed misfortunes in line with the Act, employers have refused to make the mandatory contributions even after issuance of demand and pre- action notices.
In his words: “NSITF has embraced the responsibility for payment at compensation to Employees or their Dependents qualified under the Act for any Death, Injury, Disease or Disability arising out of or in the course of
employment. NSITF also provides rehabilitation of disabled Emplnyees, and is in the process of enforcing Occupational Health & Safety Standards at workplace for prevention at accidents and disabilities as provided in Section 1n(a), (b), (c)
& (f) at ECA, 2010.
“NSITF pays Medical Expense Refund (MER) to Employers who incur expenses in treating an Employee who sustains injury in the course of employment. NSITF makes provision for less of productivity claims by an Employer where an Employee is unable to resume work due to injury or disease suffered in the course of employment and the salary is still being paid by the Employer.
“The operations of the Fund in implementing the provisions of the Employees Compensation Scheme has over the years been full of numerous challenges; refusal by Employers to make the mandatory Contribution of 1% of gross payroll to NSITF despite the effort of the Fund in placing officers in the field for the purpose of Enforcement and Compliance.
“Some of these Employers have been issued Demand Notices and Pre-Action Notices by the Fund to ensure compliance or face Litigation, but they have refused to respond positively even after the expiration of these Notices.”
Noting the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Industrial Court on all
labour, employment and allied matters, the Fund has sought for matters relating to non-compliance with the provisions of the ECA, 2010 and matters relating to appeals from any decision at the board be handled expediently without delay.
Responding, Acting President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip who emphasised the need for enlightenment on the Employees’ Compensation Scheme, said with proper knowledge of the scheme, lawyers would be better equipped to handle cases of industrial dispute.
While calling for periodic interactions between NSITF, the industrial court, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), he noted that “when all the stakeholders are present, then there is a basis to talk without one side accusing the other. We do justice and ensure the quality is good. If one does not agree, luckily they can go to appeal,” he said.