Employers Forcing Employees to Join Specific Medical Aids
Employees are up in arms against companies that force them to belong to specific medical aid schemes . But can companies do this legally?
The chairperson of the National Consumer Forum, Thami Bolani says this should not happen, and one of the country’s major medical aid schemes explains how it can happen – legally.
The answer to the question of whether or not companies can force their employees to join a specific medical aid scheme is sometimes yes, and sometimes no.
In a recent statement, Genesis Medical Scheme explained that it depends largely on what the framework of employees’ conditions of service say. For instance, if a company has a closed medical scheme, which many do, then they may enforce membership of that scheme, because it has been set up specifically for employees.
According to Genesis, the same is true if employees are paid are subsidised for a particular medical aid scheme by the company they work for.
So that’s the yes, but what’s the no?
As stated by Genesis, if employees are told by the company they work for that they must join a particular open medical aid scheme, but the scheme is not specifically “provided for” in the contract of employment, then employees are not obliged (and cannot be forced) to belong to the company’s “preferred” medical aid scheme.
According to Genesis, most companies appear to follow the cost to company (CTC) approach to medical aid. This means that they put employees on a CTC package, in which case, states Genesis, the employees ought to be able to join any medical aid scheme they wish. However, in reality, what companies often do is to collect medical aid contributions from their employees, deducting the contribution from their salaries. They then pay their preferred medical aid scheme all in one go.
So, forcing employees of a company or smaller business to belong to a certain scheme, says Genesis, is really just a ploy to make administration of their monthly payroll easier.
Of course it’s different if the company you work for does not pay medical aid contributions on behalf of their employees. If this is the case, then employees have to pay their own contributions either by making a direct deposit in cash or by electronic transfer, or with a monthly debit order.
There are numerous Internet forums where employees complain that the companies they work for do not allow them to decide which medical aid scheme they can join. Many people say they want the freedom of choice to make their own decision.
Thami Bolani Supports This View
Thami Bolani agrees, stating that serious attention needs to be given to the issue of employees having the freedom to choose which medical aid scheme they sign up with. She feels strongly that employees should never be forced to join a so-called preferred medical scheme simply to make administration of payroll easier for the company.