The Phase 3 window of applications for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) opened on Monday (July 19) and covers the period from March 16 to July 25 this year for affected industries.
Following intense deliberations with social partners at Nedlac, which included stiff lobbying from hard-hit sectors calling for the reinstatement of the Ters benefit, the UIF and labour department agreed to open the new window of applications.
Industries that stand to benefit include the tourism, hospitality (including restaurants and events businesses) and alcohol sectors, which have faced the brunt of the latest Level 4 lockdown restrictions.
A significant change in the new window is that the UIF will pay employees directly, unless otherwise decided at the discretion of the UIF Commissioner.
The application process by affected employers and the information or documents required are the same as with the previous extensions, except in respect of the processing of payments directly into employees’ accounts.
“It is therefore crucial for employers to provide valid and accurate details of their employees including identity document numbers and valid bank accounts,” notes Advocate Mzie Yawa, acting UIF commissioner.
While paying directly into an employee’s bank account remains the most preferred payment mode, the UIF says it is mindful of instances where this may be difficult. In such instances and on provision of sufficient proof by the employer, funds may be paid into the employer’s account at the UIF’s discretion.
“We have learnt the lesson from the previous phases that some unscrupulous employers did not advance the funds to their employees, and it is for that reason that we have opted for this mode of payment,” Yawa stresses.
“As a result of the non-payment of workers, the UIF and the entire department were inundated with a lot of complaints as workers could see in the system that funds had been released but had not been paid by their employers who kept the Covid Ters funds for themselves,” he adds.
Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi on Friday signed the directive that makes it possible for the UIF to implement a third extension of the Covid-19 Ters benefit.
This window will be in place until July 26, pointing to government most likely relaxing Covid-19 restrictions when the current Level 4 lockdown is expected to end next week.
The third phase will bring relief for the following categories of workers:
- Those who have not been able to work from March 16 due to Level 1, 2 and 3 restrictions preventing gatherings of a certain number of people, such as in the entertainment industry;
- Those who were and/or are still impacted by the Level 4 restrictions that commenced on June 28; and
- Those who have not been able to work due to the fact that they are over 60 or have co-morbidities and have not been able to work in the period as well as those who have had to isolate or go into quarantine.
Listen to SAFM Market update’s interview with Sandile July, director and labour law specialist at Werksmans Attorneys:
Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.