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CAPE TOWN - The Constitutional Court has found that there is no legitimate reason to exclude domestic workers from accessing workers' compensation.

In a judgment handed down on Thursday, the court declared a section of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act unconstitutional to the extent that it excludes domestic workers employed at private households from the definition of 'employee'.

This prevents them from being able to receive workers' compensation.

The order will apply retrospectively for illness, death or injury caused at work dating back 10 years.

Lawyer Laura MacFarlane and two advocates represented the Commission for Gender Equality in the matter.

She explained: "Employees employed in private households are often referred to as domestic workers, which can include gardeners as well, will now be able to claim workers’ compensation when they are injured or when they contract a disease in their course of employment. Previously, this category of employees were expressly excluded."

The dependants of these employees will also qualify to claim should their breadwinner sustain a fatal accident at work.

MacFarlane has labelled the judgment a victory for domestic workers.

"The judgment actually said that excluding domestic workers in an entrenched system of racialised gender inequality and poverty and that the exclusion was discriminatory and deprived them of their right to dignity, equality and social security.

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This article first appeared on EWN : Domestic workers can retrospectively claim workers' compensation, ConCourt rules

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