How to apply for UIF relief benefit

PAYOUT PROSPECTS: Unemployed people cannot queue for UIF payments during the lockdown Image: JAMES OATWAY

There has been some confusion about how employees who will not be paid during the lockdown can access promised financial help from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Last week, the government announced UIF would  help employers and employees who needed financial assistance through the Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Covid-19 Ters), previously referred to as the National Disaster Benefit.

However, desperate employees scrambling to ensure they have an income next month are frustrated about not knowing what documents are required and whether they can apply as individuals or if their employer must apply on their behalf.

They say e-mails to the fund are not answered.

Many said information was made available too late and they are now struggling to get their employers to co-operate.

Before lockdown started on Thursday last week, the UIF urged employers unable to pay full salaries to apply for the Covid-19 Ters benefit by e-mailing covid19ters@labour.gov.za.

Deputy director of communications for the department of labour and  employment, Lungelo Mkamba,  said  employers were  encouraged to apply on behalf of their employees for the process to be faster and to avoid the fund being overwhelmed by individual applications.

“Employees can report to us as well if their employer is not applying on their behalf so we can also intervene,” he said.

Law firm Werksmans Attorneys said  employees of a company which had to close for three months or less due to the Covid-19 pandemic would qualify for the Ters benefit, provided:

  • The employer is registered with the UIF;
  • The employer complies with the application procedure; and
  • The company’s closure is directly linked to Covid-19.

Werksmans said  on its website the benefit would  be based on your salary up to a maximum of R17,712 a month for each employee and an employee would  be paid a percentage (38-60% depending on income) as set out in the Unemployment Insurance Act.

At no time can the salary paid fall below the minimum wager in a particular sector.

As the benefit is not linked to the UIF’s normal benefits, the rule that you accumulate one day’s credit for every four days worked to the maximum 365 days payable for every four years worked, will not apply.

Applications will be subject to the fund’s usual verification and validation processes.

Where your company can still afford to pay part of your salary, the payout will work the same as maternity benefits, where Ters will top up earnings to a set sliding scale.

In addition to benefits when an employer closes, if you are ordered to go into quarantine for 14 days because you have been exposed to someone with Covid-19, you will qualify for illness benefits.

Earlier last week, labour lawyer and DA spokesperson on labour and  employment, Michael Bagraim expressed concern that there was not enough time to get the new initiative up and running.

He said he worried about individuals who did  not have easy access to the internet and that they could not queue at the department for assistance.

“We’re labour specialists and it took us a long time to get a small staff of 10 people properly registered.

“Can you imagine a factory of 500 people?”

Employees who feel they have been unfairly treated will also face a difficult road ahead as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is closed during the lockdown period.

According to law firm Webber Wentzel, a government-imposed lockdown can be seen as a force majeure where your employer is able to implement a no work-no pay principle.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I am eployed by the school governing body. When collecting my work permit this mornung, i was told that application fot TERS was made for me, but the school needs a seperate account for the funds to be paid in. She said that schools are mot allowetd to have more than one account. What else can be done?

  2. I am eployed by the school governing body. When collecting my work permit this mornung, i was told that application for TERS was made for me, but the school needs a seperate account for the funds to be paid in. She said that schools are mot allowetd to have more than one account. What else can be done?

  3. Why are April payments not been dealt with there are so many of us at our Company that haven’t received our payments and we were told to wait…..why blame backlogs that can’t be speak and computers that cannot answer for the backlog…..who is pushing the blame game around….very sad cause this has caused my rent to be behind…..

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