Tuesday | 21 April | 2020
By Reon Janse van Rensburg
In a statement by the Department of Employment and Labour issued on Monday 20 April the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, called on employers registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to apply for the Covid19 TERS scheme on behalf of their employees. This benefit scheme provides much-needed relief to employees who have been retrenched or who are unable to earn a living due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the statement the UIF so far has received just over 55 268 applications from employers representing approximately 1 601 767 employees. In total more than 1 800 000 employers, representing more than 8 million workers, are registered on the UIF’s database.
To date, the Department of Labour has processed 37 673 applications from employers, which means that 606 462 employees will receive their benefit.
However, 9 938 applications could not be processed due to errors and according to the Department of Labour, the businesses in question had been informed to correct and resubmit their applications. Some of the errors identified relate to incorrect banking details as a result of which payment cannot be processed.
According to the Department R1,1 billion has been paid out in benefits thus far.
Nxesi acknowledged that the UIF system is under pressure because the fund is currently dealing with exceptionally volumes of requests due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The minister said the department is in talks with other public entities and the private sector to build additional capacity to fast-track applications and the payment.
According to Nxesi the UIF works tirelessly to deal with the extraordinary number of applications.
“We have acknowledged that our system was not designed to accommodate the increased volumes of requests that we are witnessing due to Covid-19. We have already taken steps to mitigate this risk. We have asked the South African Revenue Service to work with the UIF to resolve the backlog we are currently experiencing. SARS responded positively and they are sending a team to work with the UIF to ensure that we distribute funds to deserving beneficiaries as swiftly and cost-efficiently as possible. We have equally engaged other private sector companies to work with the UIF to enhance the capacity of our IT system to respond to the growing number of requests,” Nxesi said.
The UIF call centre, which originally had 75 agents, increased its capacity and it now has 200 agents who can be reached telephonically. The UIF can be called on the toll-free number 0800 030 007.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.