The Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority (AgriSETA) has encouraged its stakeholders to also urgently apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to help alleviate the financial strain caused by the covid-19 lockdown.
This follows an announcement by labour minister Thulas Nxesi that more than a billion rand is still available to relieve the plight of vulnerable employers and employees who have been impacted by SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name of the coronavirus causing the current pandemic.
In the last 11 days alone the department of employment and labour has already eased the burden of nearly 900 000 workers by paying the covid-19 Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) to the tune of just over R3 billion. This was done via the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
“We know that these payments made to employees through 59 161 employers who have claimed on their behalf have not only positively affected workers, but also provided much needed relief to their families and extended families. The payments are designed to ease the pain of the salary shortfall as most companies are closed because of the lockdown,” says Nxesi.
These payments are over and above the ordinary benefit payments that the fund has been paying to qualifying beneficiaries. Since 16 April 2020 the fund has paid out close to R900 million comprising of:
- unemployment benefits to 43 878 claimants totalling R717 631 099;
- a sum of R134 555 831.12 to 8227 mothers on maternity leave;
- benefits to 1645 dependants which amounts to R26 911 166; and
- illness and adoption benefits for 1098 individuals totalling R17 940 777.
Despite these pay-outs, the department urges even more employers to avail the funds to ease the burden not only to the businesses, but also to the employees who are at home due to the lockdown.
Nxesi says, “We have at least 1.8 million employers on our database with the payroll to over 8 million workers. So far, 59 168 employers have accessed the funds. We are still holding in abeyance just over a billion rand in funds that workers could potentially be paid depending on the information that still needs to be furnished to the fund.”
The minister urged employers to access the department’s claiming procedures at https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19. He adds, “We particularly appeal to the employers of domestic workers to ensure that they are not left behind and inconvenienced as a result of the lockdown.”
Any company that was a contributor to the UIF before 15 March 2020 should apply as those that registered after that date do not qualify. The UIF exists as a social safety net and it would be sad if workers lost out on potential relief benefits that could possibly make their lives a little better during this difficult period.
Nxesi also thanked the bargaining councils who, he says, have been instrumental in ensuring that workers in their different sectors are not left behind. Some of these bargaining councils include:
- the KwaZulu-Natal Clothing Industry whose 174 employers represent 21 758 workers who have been paid a total of R28 287 145;
- the Bargaining Council for Textile Industry who claimed for their 67 employers representing 2 513 employees and they have been paid R4 600 000; and
- the Clothing Industry Bargaining Council who have been paid R13 600 000 on behalf of 7 404 workers represented by 154 employers.
The department says if the application is complete, accurate and valid payments can be processed within 24 and 48 hours. All employees will be checked against UIF systems and if the employee is not registered, the application will be returned back requesting additional information from the employer.