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UIF battles with retrenchment and maternity claims

Overburdened processing systems, missing details or employer submissions, as well as staff complement limitations, contribute to delayed payments: UIF spokesperson Makhosonke Buthelezi.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: Over the past few weeks, Moneyweb has received numerous complaints from listeners and readers about the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). They claim they’ve been waiting for months for the UIF payments. These claims relate to maternity and actual retrenchment benefits, and not the Ters (Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme) payments to individuals who have lost their jobs or a portion of their income due to Covid-19 regulations. In one case, a listener has been waiting for almost a year for a payment related to his retrenchment.

Makhosonke Buthelezi is on the line. He is the spokesperson for the UIF. Makhosonke, thank you so much for joining me. Is there a backlog of payments due to people who have submitted non-Ters-related claims?

MAKHOSONKE BUTHELEZI: Thank you. Good evening, Ryk. Yes and no. Yes in a sense that, if the claim is complete, it has everything that we need. We are able to process it. In instances where a claim was submitted but there are certain things that are missing on the claim we are unable to process it, and a client who has submitted that claim would then think that maybe the delay is from us. I can just tabulate some of the reasons why some of their claims are delayed. Should I?

RYK VAN NIEKERK: Please do, please do.

MAKHOSONKE BUTHELEZI: The first one of late is that there are instances where a company has claimed for Ters, maybe in the first three months of Ters, and thereafter the employee or the worker was retrenched. When they go to claim for the unemployment benefit, you find that on the system it reflects the person as still receiving the Ters benefit. If that’s the case, then the claim won’t be processed. That’s where we ask the employers that they should provide a letter to their employee so that he can produce it, or just inform us online, through the normal declaration, that the employee is no longer employed; therefore please process the normal benefit. That is one of the main reasons we’ve also noticed with the maternity claims.

The second issue is the issue of declarations, where employers don’t, as required by the law on the seventh of each and every month, declare their employees to UIF. That will solve a whole lot of problems because, if they are not declared with the fund, we are unable to process the claim. Post declaration means we need to close the employment gap from your side. So there are numerous reasons – but I hear you want to come in.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: Yes. Some of the complaints I’ve received emanate from last year, where somebody was retrenched and they’ve submitted documentation, they received a confirmation from the UIF that everything was in order, but payment is just not forthcoming.

I also spoke to a labour broker, who submitted some of these claims on behalf of some of her clients, and she says seven out of 10 claims she has submitted really experienced delays in payment – in some cases for more than a year. Can you shed light on that side?

MAKHOSONKE BUTHELEZI: Yes. Talking about labour brokers, we are not treating them differently than a ‘Makhosonke’ [direct claimant] who goes and submits a claim. They’re all subjected to the same rules. And with them what we have also noticed is that, these things that I’m talking about, they are not even able to close the gaps, for example.

Let me just say generally one of the challenges that we are facing as the fund is that, one, if you submit claims online. The system now is overwhelmed because it was built to process X number of claims, but with the increase in unemployment, there’s been that problem – that it is now overwhelmed. It’s taking more than what it was built for.

Secondly, people look to claim online, just quickly, and some of them have forgotten their passwords and all that. Resetting the passwords involves certain information that must be submitted to the call centre. On that side as well, the call centre is overwhelmed with both those queries and Ters queries.

I’m tabulating some of the challenges that we are facing as the fund. If you go and submit at the labour centre, the issue there is that some people are working at home and we are taking X number of people per day. Obviously we would normally assist clients with things, and where what is outstanding is from the employer we’ll call the employer. You’ll find that now we’re unable to do that because we want to process as many clients as we can. So where we have to call, we put those aside so that we can attend to the ones that are a hundred percent, and then we only do those. So we do have those challenges at the call centre.

Now, given that you will then have an issue where a claim will take almost a year – one, I think the issue is that lack of interaction and regular feedback with the client is missing under the current circumstances, because some of the clients will submit everything (and that) will be fine. They will even get a message that says your claim has been sent to the assessor for payment. But they still wait. The reason is that maybe there’s one thing (missing). A common document that is missing is the continuation of payment form, which triggers the payment, whereas before the person would know, when going to the call centre, that the customer service person, our officer, will tell them that, okay, now that you’ve submitted this, this is the next step, this is what you need to do.

So there is also that challenge that obviously we should acknowledge.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: I can appreciate that your systems are being overwhelmed, because you’ve been tasked with paying Ters claims, which the system obviously wasn’t built for. But is it a case of the Ters payments being prioritised above the normal retrenchment claims and payouts, and maternity leave claims?

MAKHOSONKE BUTHELEZI: Not at all. That’s not the case because, as I’m talking to you, today we paid about R93.3 million of the normal things for covering about 19 000 or so beneficiaries. That is of the normal claims. So it’s not because we prioritise the benefits, because Ters payments are done at head office here in Pretoria, and the claims are processed online, unlike the normal benefits where they are first done at 126 provincial offices that we have, and done both online as well as physically.

So I think it’s just that, one, as I’ve already said, it’s the issue of not having the full staff complement at the labour centres. And secondly limiting the number of people that you can take at labour centres, as well as our U-filing system for those who are submitting online claims. We have a lot of them now, seeing that there are limitations with the physical submission of claims at labour centres, so many people go for online claims.

What I also need to mention with online claims is that people also forget the UI19 form [the form used by employers to submit particulars of their workers to the fund’s database]which is critical for the processing of the claims, to put them up online so that we can be able then to do proper assessment and be able to pay.

RYK VAN NIEKERK: Makhosonke, thank you so much for your time tonight. That was Makhosonke Buthelezi, the spokesperson for the UIF.

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Welcome to an incompetent ANC run Government!

Why doesn’t this come as a surprise?

And the voters return in their droves to vote them back into power!

Why oh why?

The bewildering power of lies, a T Shirt and a food parcel every 4 years..Astonishing

Plus a free National health promise ,free proposed social security payments etc etc .In fact the freedom expected by ANC voters . They are however more Dom than free .

Quite certain that the receiving of funds still functions.

What a loaf of nonsense. I applied for UIF in January. All my documents were received and confirmed. To date I have yet to receive payment! They don’t contact you and the number doesn’t work.
It’s boils down to the luck of the draw and if thr assessor feels like approving the claim.

Yet another world class government controlled operation. I claimed in 2005 and it seems the disaster UIF was then has not changed one iota

Something else to report on and get commentary from government:

For the past four or five days if you call SARS with a company income tax issue, THEY HAVE NO CALL-BACK option, you start at caller number 1300 or so. You can try hang on the line but the odds that your call disconnects when you get to 700 or 300 or 100 is nearly 100%.

Nothing works where the government is involved. Bankrupt SOEs and municipalities leave citizens without basic services, but not to worry, at least we’ve got the most “progressive” constitution and bill of human rights in the world.

Millions of unemployed citizens are living in squalor, with the refuse and sewage piling up around their shacks. Malnutrition impacts negatively on the mental development of 30% of children. More than 50 per cent of young people will never have a job and will die in poverty.

The GDP per capita in China is growing to pull the poor out of poverty and into the middle class within a lifetime. This amazing feat is overlooked because they are not a constitutional democracy. They manage to lift millions of people out of poverty but they are criticized for their human rights abuses?

We are a shining example to Switzerland and Singapore. Even China can come and learn from us how to run a democracy. Our people are dying in squalor, but at least they had human rights and enjoyed living in a constitutional democracy.

Well said! I wish those little people in their dark back offices of the ANC, who punt all these issues of racialism, Colonialism, civil liberties, constitutional democracy, etc would come out of their little closets and face the realities of incompetence, corruption and maladministration, that are destroying our country.

How is this a surprise?
The ANC shut down as much of the economy as they could – using the virus as an excuse.
Encouraged the wealthy to leave (for years) with NHI, EWC etc – and have killed the tax base… Plus continue to do so,

And then went on a freaking ad-campaig encouraging people to claim various benefits.

It is really frustrating to listen to a person who keeps waving red herrings and doesn’t address the plight and frustration of the thousands who have submitted correct documentation and just suffer at the hands of incompetent Civil Servants – that means mostly people in management positions.
I don’t know what your editorial policies are, but some of the questions I would’ve asked Mr Buthelezi:

1. What proportion of claims fall into these “red herring” categories of partially completed documents or overlapping claims?
2 Do you maintain accurate statistics about how long it takes to pay out a claim? and what the delay is due to incomplete paperwork? Would you publish this information?
3. Are people able to contact you personally on your cell or via e-mail if they have had a delay of say, more than three months in receiving payment?
4. Do you have any advice for someone who has been waiting for more than six months for payment, has made telephonic contact with your department numerous times, only to be fobbed off with delays (that cost them money for the call), and quite blatantly told lies about where their application is and when it will be finalised? Any advice??

I fall into this last category and would be happy to share my frustrations with Mr Buthelezi.

Thank you,

D E WATKINS

Buthelezi will probably never reply. He is in his position of power, getting a tax paid salary while probably doing nothing. His buddies at Alteram Systems who are responsible for the endless delays will keep their cushy contract and continue to let people suffer. WE need to get companies like Alteram from keeping their contracts. Expose them for their incompetence, probably some corrupt dealings as well. As we all know, there is nothing aboveboard when it comes to dealing with the government.

Having read this article, I find it amazing how nothing was discussed regarding Alteram Systems which is causing endless delays. Case numbers being messed up, multiple emails sent to the call centre, never replied to. No connection between references on ufiling and ones given by the call centre? How did Alteram get this contract? How do they keep this contract when it is blatantly apparent that they are failing the people. It is shockingly apparent that they are just another tender gone wrong, while people suffer and Alteram’s directors benefit from lucrative contracts/tenders. Mr Buthelezi, perhaps you can explain for the DOL? Or is this just another quagmire of receipt and corruption that is causing families to starve? As for apologies given by call centre agents, please don’t, these are meaningless. Backlogs will get worse, nothing will get done, Alteram will carry benefitting from their tender, while the DOL allows this to happen.

End of comments.

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