Employers ‘angry, frustrated, horrified’ by Ters process

Some have given up, others have been forced to take out loans to pay their employees.
The online application site crashed two days before April month-end. Apparently too many people tried to download a file indicating whether their applications had been successful. Image: UIF website

Employers have been scrambling to submit claims under the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) in a format and manner that meets the ever-changing directives published by the Department of Employment and Labour.

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Speaking to Moneyweb before month-end, many enterprises voiced their utter frustration with the bureaucracy, lack of certainty, lack of consistency and lack of access to websites and competent people who can assist them in getting funding from government’s Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters).

“It has been horrific,” says businesswoman and restaurateur Marina Appelbaum. “We know we are not going to be paid in time for our staff to get their money. We know. It is outrageous. We have been paying UIF contributions every month.”

Appelbaum has submitted applications for all 150 staff members no fewer than six times since April 4.

To date she has received one payment of R4 000.

“Just when you feel relieved that something is working you get nothing and they change the process again.”

In the first round, she submitted her claim applications via email. She uploaded hundreds of documents, as required by the department, only to be told that the files containing her employees’ details had to be converted from Excel to a CSV (comma-separated values) file.

When she resubmitted the documents she was told that she should not do so via email, but that everything should be done via the online portal created for Ters applications.

“This process has been hell. It’s like they have too many consultants who keep changing the process because they themselves do not know how it is supposed to work.”

When Appelbaum eventually got through to the call centre to enquire about her application she was told to “just be patient”.

Minister lambasted

A businesswoman from Centurion who had to secure a loan to pay her 20 staff members at the end of April lambasted a statement from Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi that employers are not doing enough to assist employers to claim UIF benefits.

She said even before the lockdown started they assisted workers in filling in forms that the workers were supposed to email to the UIF. Then the plans changed, and the employer had to submit a mountain of documents to claim on behalf of their employees.

After jumping through all the old and new hoops, her application was rejected.

She sent an email, phoned every possible number. No response. She tried to resubmit her application. After about 20 attempts to gain access to the website, she gave up.

She secured a loan.

“My staff have got no food on the table, they have mortgages to pay and they have kids to support. The process has changed numerous times, and it’s cumbersome. This is new to all of us. If we make a mistake just help us.

“I am angry,” she says. “When they get on television to tell us about their scheme it sounds as if the process is fluid. It sounds like they have the process waxed – but they do not.”

Despondent

The owner of an estate agency remarks that the constant changes appear to be nothing other than moving the goalposts.

The hassle becomes too much and people just give up, he says.

Those still trying were faced with even more frustration when the UIF website ‘crashed’ two days before the April month-end.

Faith Ngwenya, technical and standards executive at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (Saipa), says the institute was in contact with the UIF commissioner about the inability of its members to gain access to the Ters online application website.

System crash

Apparently a file containing a list of all employers whose claims had been processed and who had received payments caused the system to crash.

“Our understanding is that everyone who has submitted claims on behalf of their employees wanted to download the file to ascertain whether their company appeared on the list.”

The file was subsequently removed and the hope is that the system will recover to acceptable levels for employers to gain access.

Ngwenya says Saipa has confirmed with the UIF commissioner that employers can continue with their April claims, even if the applications are only submitted in May.

These will still be paid as per the April claim and will not impact the May payment.

She says some of Saipa’s members are also struggling to understand the formula used by the UIF to calculate the benefit employees will receive in terms of the sliding scale (payments vary between 38% and 60% of the employee’s salary).

“We are still looking into the reasons for the anomalies we have picked up,” she says.

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People are still being too polite. The government has no motivation to help any of us. Any money they pay out now, will be recovered from taxpayers. It just means they can steal – yes, steal- less money from the taxpayers for a little while. I challenge any politician in the world to deny the fact that they are draining the lifeblood from the people who pay their salaries. Rats in a maze. Bloodsuckers at the top.

John, the politicians and bureaucrats’ salaries are paid every month, so they lose nothing. For them it is easy to stop this and cancel that, because their livelihood is not affected. I’d love to see what happens when their salaries are cancelled, like mine was cancelled because my little business is in lockdown. I’m losing every day… and I can only keep on paying my staff for a finite period of time. I’d like to see what happens when all businesses stop paying salaries.

When any process requires someone to change their system settings to use the “pipe” instead of a “comma” as the separating symbol and edit the csv file in notepad after completion to remove the headings it was bound not to work.

I personally believe this is on purpose to save money through disallowed applications whilst saving face by saying “but we made the money available”.

I also had to change my pc’s settings but the pipe setting doesn’t exist. I even tried to find it to download, but nothing. After changing all the other settings it buggered up my other programs, so pastel wasn’t working. I had to struggle to put everything back to what it was.

There is such a huge disconnect between Squirrel his command council and the rest of the Ministers

Whoever thought things will be different during Covid19 all because the President is more vocal than ever before, is living in cuckoo land

The draconian behavior is all but helping a country on its knees..Even the WHO have raised their concerns on SA

Remember it’s the same cabinet that led us into a recession and downgrade pre Corona thats telling us what to do, how to do it and when to do it, all the while businesses are crumbling and thousands are being retrenched

Then they go ahead and pay the Cuban Government for doctors when we have 12000 of our own! It boggles the mind!

Our local council have also requested we continue paying our accounts, yet the black refuse bags are lining the streets glaring at the sun

So, if they can’t fix potholes, collect waste or run a country, how on earth does anyone expect them to process UIF claims?

We’re paying a lot of money watching this circus at play

People are worried, frustrated and hungry

The amount of money the economy has lost during lockdown vs the total deaths, equates to R5,8 billion per dead person vs 55 million live ones losing their life savings

And one wonders what extensive experience the Cubans have in treating Covid. And how they feel about the portion of the money paid over to them after the Cuban government took their cut.

AND one wonders why they’re here in the first place? SAMA says they’re not necessary, and apparently it wasn’t even consulted on the issue. Are these people really doctors? Or what? Given the ANC government’s inexplicable admiration for all things Cuban, it’s worrying.

You know what’s going to happen here. Govt will pay the Cubans. The Cuban give keeps 80% of the money. They in turn will pay someone off in the ANC govt. No one will be the wiser because the Cuban govt doesn’t answer to anyone but themselves, not even their own citizens.

I believe these Cuban doctors get in the way and nurses have to teach them how to draw blood. Probably can’t speak English either.

Whilst this may surprise some, this is a taste of the standards, efficiency and beauracrcy that sits at ALL government administetrd departments. Welcome to South Africa where your local doctors are unemployed and you can’t get roast chicken.

Reminds me of SARS and their bureaucracy and continual rejections of valid objections or requests for tax clearance, or not dealing with submissions for changing details of taxpayers, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, with them you don’t have the option of just opting out.

Obviously the ministers/politicians can get More money for themselves if the complicate things to confuse, delay things. This is a text book ANC created problem that again denies the tax payer a fair slice.

They can yes.

Like cancel cigarette sales on level 4. What family benefits the most from the sale of illegal cigarettes? Who made the decision to cancel the sale and took pleasure in announcing it?

ANC free for all.

In the process they are now even p-ing off their good citizens.

Who is surprised that TERS was NOT going to be smooth and functionally?

Cadre deployment pay back time : Unqualified Deployed Mamparas now having to do a job properly : Clueless

When is everyone going to realize that government has no money. They can talk about all the measures they are putting in place, but in reality it is all a farce. The reason they put the country on lockdown so early is because they know they cannot afford the medical response should the outbreak deepen. Although the cost to the economy will be huge, they know that this way at least they won’t have to spend money they don’t have on the medical response. Their entire health response is funded by large business and the solidarity fund. All the PPE they have bought thus far has been from donated funds or actual donations from the Chinese. Their stomachs are empty. Cyril knows they don’t have money but shows a brave face. They are taking all the handouts they can get.

This isn’t really anything to do with the government’s funds, because UIF is paid from a separate fund which is flush with cash.

The problem is that the UIF is a vast mine of incompetence. Two months ago, we received a notice that our July 2019 (!) UI-19 had been rejected because we had not supplied our trading name. But there it was on the UI-19, clear as a bell. Plus they sent the rejection notice to an address we haven’t used for five years. (We have documentary evidence of having advised the DoL of our change of address).

When an organisation is that dysfunctional, it doesn’t really matter whether there’s money or not.

The Govt actually does not want you to claim. Even though tell you that it is mandatory to claim.

It is an absolute mess. The cadres have done themselves proud.

Maybe someone in the brigade of 240 Cuban medical workers sent out by The Command Council can help.

Name one thing – other than looting – that this government can do successfully.

Oh I almost forgot – they can talk BS incessantly.

Wear silly hats and wide collars with big tie knots and …. no that’s about it

Did we actually expect anything else but chaos. Trends are not easily broken, unlike promises.

When, as with the ANC, “the accountability lies with the collective”, then huge accountability, as well as incentive problems, arise. If you are reliant on an official who is from a collectivist background, then, unless you are a Buddhist monk, your days will be filled with frustration, disappointment and anger.

In collectivist societies, accountability is shared by the entire community while the individual’s acts of exploitation are privatised. The system incentivises those individuals who have the entrepreneurial spirit, to exploit that community in every way possible, because the community carries the cost of that exploitation, while the entrepreneurs keep the profits to themself. The most unscrupulous person in the rural community who owns the most cattle, overgrazes the communal land to the detriment of everyone else, while he becomes wealthy. He expropriates communal assets through his cattle. He impoverishes the community by expropriating their biggest asset, their land and grazing.

We have the same system, with the same incentives, in our official communal properties called SOEs, government departments and municipalities. The labour laws and labour unions ensure that the position of the official in that shared resource, or communal property, called a government department, is secured. His salary is also fixed in his job description. There are zero incentives for that person to excel at his job because his salary won’t increase. So, this individual gets “value for money” and exploits the system by doing as little as possible. He is not held to account anyway, for the government is socialist. The less he does, the more he gets paid for what he does. By doing less, he gave himself a pay rise and a bonus. He is an entrepreneur who acts according to the incentives.

The socialist government incentivises its officials to plunder and exploit the public at an ever-increasing rate. A position in government is a race to steal what you can before the next leader appoints another cadre in your place, who will steal everything anyway. This is a race to the bottom and South Africa is at the bottom.

This is why we need to privatise all government projects. The free market brings accountability and it incentivises the entrepreneurs to act in accordance with the needs of the consumers.

Correct. The ideology, practice and electoral system are all wrong and we end up where we are now.

“The free market brings accountability and it incentivises the entrepreneurs to act in accordance with the needs of the consumers.”

Until theory collides with the reality that almost all government functions are monopolies, and we place them in government’s hands precisely because the history of the world shows that free enterprise cannot be trusted with monopolies.

You want to privatise SARS or the defence force or Home Affairs? Maybe we could get KPMG to audit them. And once you’ve privatised them and they fail, then what? The country can’t walk away and tell the army-in-receivership’s shareholders “Cheers, and good luck selling all those SAMILs and G5s”.

We will still need a military afterwards, which is why the taxpayer will always be the funder of last resort for privatised state functions. Ergo, true free enterprise can never exist, not even in PPPs. That’s why privatising national roads in the form of SANRAL has been such a disaster: SANRAL can’t dig itself out of its hole by selling the N1, so the taxpayer just keeps bailing it out, and that is a fact whether the shareholder is the SA government or Jeff Bezos. Because we will still need the N1 afterwards.

The solution is not free enterprise, but competent government. If private enterprise could run countries, somewhere in the world a country with (Pty) Ltd after its name would exist, but it doesn’t, and for the same reason that communism has failed wherever it’s been tried: it is not feasible.

Those countries with (Pty) Ltd after their name do exist. It is called Amazon.com, Facebook, Google, Samsung, Apple etc. whose GDP is larger than that of many countries.

Blackwater (Academi) provides military services more efficiently than the US army can. That is why they are a billion-dollar company. In South Africa, we have private security companies that provide a more professional service at a fraction of the cost as the police. Private enterprise in South Africa can generate electricity more reliably and at half the price as Eskom. Private individuals have to jump in to provide municipal services where municipalities have collapsed.

Those services that governments provide cheaply, according to you, are subsidised by the consumer. Add this tax subsidy to the direct cost and the service is much more expensive than what can be provided by the private sector. If this wasn’t so, then why are government monopolies enforced by law? Why do they need the law to protect them from the competition in the free market?

Why are consumers coerced into using only government services? Why are the consumers not allowed to choose for themselves? What gives you the right to decide for them? What is the value of freedom of choice if you have no freedom of choice?

If that private enterprise provided such a poor, unaffordable service, it will simply go bankrupt. Why do you experience freedom as a threat? Or are you a municipal employee perhaps?

Rob. In theory yes. But in corrupt regimes like SA you may eventually have no choice but to privatize or DIE like SAA.

I understand why many commentators attribute malice to this process but the causes are three ins: incompetence, inexperience, indifference. Incompetence is a cause in and of itself, and the root cause of recruiting incompetent and indifferent employees.

It seems as if people are expecting the SA Dept of Labour to be competent ?! Huh ?!
They are completely clueless, and have been for a long time !
The function of allocation funds and disbursing them should be moved to SARS (especially for UIF and Compensation Fund).
SARS may not be perfect, but they have systems, processes and people in place that are LIGHT YEARS ahead of Dept. of Labour !!!

all part of the plan, they don’t have the money, it has been reallocated, so they make the system impossible to get anywhere. Eventually you give up like with most ANV/guavament processes.

Fiedel Castro in her black uniform has also told us that there is no money for the extra R500 grant……..that will bomb out too.

Next step will be old Gogos rising up and rioting.

Government is a failure and a disgrace.will only get worse

This Govt today is a model of good governance compared to what the EFF would be : Jungle Laws !

Doctors from communist cuba will cost sa R400m +

And hospitals have no masks and protection for care workers.

On another website Maruping from the UIF claims they pay out a minimum of R3500 and a maximum of R6700.Then how come 12 of us were paid out nothing,one of us got about R450 and the other person about R110.The 12 of us were turned down because apparently we were all paid above R3500 minimium wage threshold.

Thank you Amanda for your articles with a tax slant.

(Sadly, it seems, this process has been designed from the outset to keep the State’s fist tightly closed 🙁

We are very happy to say that we received our company’s TERS Covid-19 payment within days after submission. Used the services of Acceleron Accounting in Cape Town. Thank you Veruschka.

Maybe needless to say, but applicants for the benefit must be tax compliant in order to avoid hic-ups and delays.

Wilma I am happy for you but why must we all use accountants as they charge a lot of fees where everybody should be able to do it themselves.The government sould be have competed people and systems in place that’s why they get paid OUR taxes.

More than frustrated!! Absolutely infuriated!! Submitted a claim for 5 employees!! Advised that criteria not met??!! Why? No employee earns more than the threshold!!

I also had the unfortunate task of attempting to lodge a claim, took days of frustration, eventually managed to log on and I hope, complete the process at around 11 pm last evening. I fully agree with the bulk of the comments on this page any touchpoints I’ve had with our of our government departments SASSA, HA, Police, UIF are a complete embarrassment we should be ashamed of ourselves for expecting these guys could run any first world process properly.

TERS … ‘terrs’ – def good humour if you look hard enough

Even before COVID I applied for UIF, been a contributer of 30 years plus. Guess what, white skin and hair disqualified me. With their office in the neighbouring town, it is a schlep to go and see them. After the first try, I did it online and all went well until they rejected my claim and classed it “siyaya status”. What the hell does this mean- nowhere an explanation on their website? So back to their offices. More hassles, more excuses, massive disconnect between their offices and their website. So I have abandoned it as I am not going to kiss cadre @sses.

Money in the hands of a corrupt government ends up nowhere – there is no accountability and massive wastage.
Money in the hands of accountable people ends up somewhere – there is accountability and productive use of capital.

Therefore in an accountable system like Norway, there is no reason to privatize but in a non-accountable system like SA, there is no reason to keep things publicly run.

Employers had opted not to apply for a loan as government will not refund. These private firms/entities had opted to take the full yearly leave and pay 70%, 50%, 30% or none at all to their employees and when employees objected the employers threatened their employees with mass retrenchment. I should know as I’m one one the senarios mentioned.

To me the simplest solution would have been to exempt payments for PAYE for the month of April, giving the taxpayer more cash in his or her pocket, and exempt more food from VAT to bring down the cost of food.I am not sure how much it would costs SARS but it would not be as complicated as this fiasco and would be fair.

Zweli Mkize was caught lying with regards to Cuban medical specialists and the 400 mil plus payment on SABC news. He said they are needed because of their specializations and experience and because in SA there is no primary care. He said people go straight to the hospital in SA.This is a lie , you need a reference letter from your clinic or doctor before you are permitted to the Gov hospitals!
I am curious to know the exact qualifications and experience for each of the Cubans.
I do not agree that we could not get most if not all the skills here in SA. We should have even tried to invite the retired SA personnels .

My experience with SA is that we have great inferiority complex. I experienced this in ICT. Companies will import skills and experience that is not individually proven but country proven. Other countries take advantage of our ignorance and inferiority complex, they sometimes bring qualified personnel but or little to No experience to come and learn. With this they always increase their pool of experience but sending their people in other countries, mostly in Africa with ignorant governments!

I think SA is better experienced with regards to SA needs because I do not know any other countries who are experienced with kind of poverty that we have, HIV, TB and other diseases in one pot.

I am with SAMA on this one. It is just too early to spend so much money and to invite non SA with subjective ” not proven ” individual experience!!

And whilst this circus is playing out, Municipal officials are giving themselves a nice increase.

A tax / rates boycott is not the answer – just look at Grahamstown – the typical ANC success story.

Trust me the allocated money has probably left the kitty to the pockets of the thieving elite.

In three months time, all we will be hearing about is a commission of enquiries task with finding out where all the money went

On several sites there are complaints from employees accusing employers of keeping UIF money. My daughter has done many of these applications and in many cases it has been very difficult. Employers have not received the funds and in other cases only funds for a small no. of employees out of the full labour force have been received. The sites gave crashed. Mr. RAMAPHOSA must personally sort this out.

You certainly must be joking to get the chief to sort that out laugh of the day

I also assisted our staff to complete 6pages of docs, get bank stamped, scan and email everything to the required address, only to get a reply that it must be sent in a different format to another email address. Did that, only to get another reply that everything must be done online. Struggled for 2 days to get into the web site. Filled in every member’s details and submitted again. That was on the 17th. Since then the site shows nothing, only that the submission has been processed on the same day. I mailed to find out when we can expect feedback, but they said it can’t be tracked as the system is overloaded. My staff are hungry, no money for food. They contact me daily to find out when they will be paid. What do I tell them? Was my submission successful, were there any incorrect info, what is going on???!!!

Contact Sharen Govender on sharen@focusgroup.co.za if you are not yet sorted out but note that no payments have yet been processed for non-SA citizens.

Money web,

Was Andre Kitizinger or one of his acolytes involved in the web design? It has the look & fell of one of his efforts (SARS, CIPC)

That is so typical for everything here and how all is going. INCOMPETENCE, NONE CARE MENTALITY, ARROGANCE AND CHAOS. Everyone is too Dumb for everything… But the are world champions in promising and talking large! All slimy liars and a total useless gouverment, who brought is to where we are now. To ruins!!!! And still looting
Mike Hons

I am and have been hugely frustrated, I have been applying since the 13th of April, to no avail, no response to anything, I have been trying to claim for a staff of 115, have phoned the call centre numerous times only to be told to keep waiting, then discovered that a vast number of applications prior to the the 16th of April had been lost and should be re-submitted. So submitted again, and still waiting. This is the most frustrating, mind blowing procedure I have ever come across. What is the point of a call centre if they cannot access your information to check on the progress of your claim???

Used the services of a Management consultancy/Auditors who also handle monthly salaries. We received the Ters payment on 23rd, two days before salary pay date. Small fee is worth every cent to avoid the frustration of dealing directly with Dept of Labour. Of course you have to have been paying UIF contributions every month and keeping names, ID’s etc up to date. NB: No payment for non RSA employees.

End of comments.

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