At Work in Johannesburg


Pension plans in Johannesburg


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South Africa is unique in having a reasonably healthy voluntary pension fund industry with higher coverage of employed people than many leading economies -- but no state involvement in providing universal retirement benefits. However, the government is looking to create a compulsory earnings-related social security system that will include retirement benefits for all citizens. Judged by the World Bank's 'multi-pillar' approach to pension provision, South Africa has the first and third pillars -- the welfare-based old-age pension and private savings. The second pillar, which the government wishes to build, will require employed citizens to contribute to a state fund, which will give them a minimum benefit on retirement, along British lines. This is is driven by the state's growing burden of support for the elderly. Establishing a second pillar would take the pressure off the social old- age pension system. Although about 50% of employed people belong to a pension fund, many do not save enough, or cash in retirement funds when moving jobs. Many work for small companies without pension funds or earn too little for their own retirement provision.

Although the government wishes  to ensure adequate savings on retirement and provide for cross-subsidization, it remains unlikely that it would end tax benefits on voluntary savings as a way of boosting social pensions However, the government may phase in changes over time and introduce a cap on tax deductions, as in Britain. In South Africa, a similar system already applies to the tax treatment of medical aid contributions. It is unlikely that the government would  force all citizens to invest their full pension in a single fund, and will offer a choice, as in other countries. While people could still contribute to private schemes, every citizen was likely to be compelled to fund the state's social security scheme, either by a specific allocation of part of their retirement funding contributions, or by cross-subsidisation through differential taxation.

Currently an employee with a provident fund can cash in his or her full fund on retirement. The payout is taxed, but in contrast with pension funds, the purchase of an annuity is not legally required. It is possible that  the government might introduce measures requiring provident fund members to purchase annuities on retirement. The next step would be to prevent employees from gaining access to their pension or provident funds until retirement. This issue sparked strikes in the 1980s, and is still a  particularly sensitive issue for trade unions, which believe workers should have access to their pension contributions to deal with life crises

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Injuries and Diseases

When workers die as a result of occupational injuries or diseases, their dependants can claim compensation.  The Basic Guide to Compensation for Occupational Fatalities explains how such compensation is determined.  In addition, the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act provides compensation for workplace accidents or illnesses caused by hazardous workplace conditions. The following is a summary condensed from the Department of Labour website.

The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act applies to:

  • all employers; and
  • casual and full-time workers who, as a result of a workplace accident or work-related disease:
    • are injured, disabled, or killed; or
    • become ill.

This excludes

  • workers who are totally or partially disabled for less than 3 days
  • domestic workers
  • anyone receiving military training
  • members of -
    • the South African National Defence Force
    • the South African Police Service
  • any worker guilty of wilful misconduct, unless they are seriously disabled or killed
  • anyone employed outside the Republic of South Africa (RSA) for 12 or more continuous months; and
  • workers working mainly outside the RSA and only temporarily employed in the RSA

Lump Sum Payments

A lump sum is paid when permanent disablement is 30% or less.

The formula for 30% is:
15 X worker's pay (up to a maximum of less than 30% calculated proportionally) X degree of disablement ÷ 30.

Pension Payments

Pension is paid when the degree of permanent disablement is between 31% and 100%.
The formula is: 75% of worker's pay X degree of disablement ÷ 100.

Based on Legislation in Section 49 of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act

Update 27/11/2008



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