Monday, 19 March 2018

Mykola Makarenko's employer's insurance must pay compensation to the widow

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Mykola and Ekaterina Makarenko with their son. Mykola and Ekaterina Makarenko with their son. Photo: Ekaterina Makarenkos pictures archive.

Ekaterina Makarenko has to be compensated by her deceased husband's employer's insurance company, but the case processing is long-term.

In the case of the Ukrainian land worker Mykola Makarenko's accident, where he died in a grain silo on Knud Puge Kjær Knudsens farm near Tølløse on 12 October 2017, the widow, Ekaterina Makarenko, did not 5 month later hear anything from the Danish authorities about compensation for loss of husband and family bread-winner.

After has asked The Labor Market Insurance Authority a number of questions, Ekatarina Makarenko has finaly been contacted. The questions that we asked and the answers to them can be read further down in the article.

The accident has been reported and The Labor Market Insurance Authority

There has been doubt about who was the employer of Mykola Makarenko. Knud Puge Kjær Knudsen has informed The Labor Market Insurance Authority that his father, Peter Kjær Knudsen, was the employer. However, this has stated that the employer was a temporary workers agency named Euro Power. To, Peter Kjær Knudsen has confirmed that it is the agency Uitzendbureau Euro Power, which is based in the Dutch city of Heeswijk-Dinther.

Peter Kjær Knudsen tells that he has a contract with the agency and that he contacts them when he needs an employee. This also happened in connection with Mykola Makarenko, who at that time was in Sweden, from where Peter Kjær Knudsen picked him up.

On the question of where the widow is to be compensated for loss of her husband and the father of the family, Peter Kjær Knudsen answers:

"It is so in Denmark that your occupational injury insurance covers. So my occupational injury insurance covers. I have reported the damage to the National Board of Occupational Injury (the board has changed its name to Arbejdsmarkedets Erhvervssikring (The Labor Market Insurance Authority), red.).

The procedure for case processing at The Labor Market Insurance Authority

We have asked The Labor Market Insurance Authority for a statement on how the procedure is in cases of fatal accidents. We have asked a number of questions that the press officer Christian Frederik Mortensen has answered.

How long is the processing time on average?

– The Labor Market Insurance Authority aims to resolve cases of fatalities as soon as possible. The processing time depends on the specific circumstances of each case. It can be stated that the average processing time for work injuries is 9 months and that 80 percent of cases are settled within one year.

What specific circumstances can affect the processing time?

– What can take time is the inquiry. You need to get information about how the man was employed. It is about ensuring that he is covered by Danish law, and you must also be sure who was an employer because it is an insurance system, it is the employer's insurance there must go in and cover compensation and case processing. Under the Labor Injury Act, it is the employer who has the benefit of the work and who has the instructional authority, who is responsible for the insurance. That is what we have to look at. And then you have to figure out who the bereaved are. And then you have to make a decision and fix an eventual compensation.

How do you make contact to the widow?

– When we receive a notification of a fatal accident, we will investigate whether there are survivors - ie spouse / cohabitants and possibly children. If there is any information about the survivors in the case, we will contact the survivors based on the facts of the case and get information about marriage / cohabitation and any children. This is done by ordinary mail, possibly in English. It is very different how people are employed and if the employer has there addresses. If we can not get the information in another way, it may be necessary to contact the Embassy. It is our duty to obtain the necessary information for the processing of the case.

Is it the normal procedure that it lasts 5 months or more before the widow hears from the Labor Market Insurance Authority for the first time, so she for a long time shall be in doubt about how her situation is?

– Of course, it must be done as soon as possible, and it also means that we contact the survivors as soon as possible after we have the information.

When I ask if it's normal procedure that it lasts 5 months or more, it's because I have a real case with a Ukrainian who are dead and here 5 months after his death his widow says that she has nothing heard from Denmark. This is the case where a Ukrainian died in a grain silo. Now there is a widow and two children, and the widow has no income.

– We can not comment on a specific case. The decision comes together and it is a decision that determines who was an employer, if he was subject to Danish labor injury law at the time, if he died as a result of the accident and are there eligible survivors. If so, they must have a transitional amount, and then you will have to decide whether they are also entitled to compensation for dependency losses. We handle cases of death as soon as possible.

What documentation should the widow have to prove she is the deceased widow?

– If the case is a spouse / cohabitant, this must be documented by the survivor. In the case of a spouse, there must be a marriage certificate certified by the home country confirming the marriage's conclusion.
In the case of a cohabitant, as a survivor, it should be possible to prove that this relationship has, as a rule, passed 2 years before the accident, for example in the form of documentation about common residence, economy etc.

How is compensation calculated?

– If the deceased leaves a spouse / cohabiting partner and it is estimated that there is an accident that can be recognized, a transitional amount will be paid to the survivor, which in 2018 will amount to 165,500 kroner.

Hereafter, AES (The Labor Market Insurance Authority, red.) will assess whether the survivor is also entitled to compensation for loss of dependents. The compensation will be determined according to the extent of the care and the survivor's ability to support herself. This assessment includes age, state of health, education, employment, dependency and economic conditions. The compensation is awarded in the form of a fixed current benefit amounting to 30 percent of the annual salary of the deceased, cf. section 20 of the Occupational Injury Act. The survivor will receive the benefit for a maximum of 10 years.

If the deceased leaves children who he is obliged to provide for, the child is entitled to a current annual benefit of 10 percent of the deceased's annual salary until the child reaches 18 years, cf. section 21 of the Workers' Insurance Act.

Transitional amounts and compensation for loss of dependents will be paid by the employer's insurance company.

The survivors will be party heard to the case's information before making a decision.

Prolonged case processing to the detriment of survivors

In view of the catastrophe of losing her husband and family's bread-winner, it is a very long-term case-handling that can only increase the extent of the disaster. It should be an important task for the government to ensure that the damage to the survivors is minimized – not maximized.

When the government wants to attract foreign labor it is a very bad signal to send a families who loses a husband and father for many months to be in doubt about its situation because the family is not contacted by the Danish authorities. And for the foreigners who already work in Denmark, the case of Mykola Makarenko and his widows situation must also raise concerns about what will happen to their families if they are in a similar situation.

The supply of resources to The Labor Market Insurance Authority could undoubtedly reduce the processing time and thus reduce the disaster of the surviving family.

Facts about accidents at work in Danish agriculture

From 2011 to 2016, the number of occupational accidents increased by 17 percent.

In 2017 there were 912 inspections at workplaces in agriculture. In 2011 there were 4107.

Employment Minister Troels Lund Poulsen (V) does not believe that more control is needed. Instead, he is focusing on an information campaign, which the Ministry has worked out with, Agriculture & Food (in Danish: Landbrug & Fødevarer), the Branch Community of Working Environment (in Danish: Branchefællesskabet for Arbejdsmiljø) and The Labor Inspectorate (in Danish: Arbejdstilsynet).

Source: Ugebrevet A4

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