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Incomplete applications hold up UIF relief

Temporary Covid-19 scheme has only paid out R460m to distressed companies so far.
If the lockdown is extended beyond three months the UIF would have to look at other ways of funding its benefits. Image: Moneyweb

Funds for financially distressed businesses that have applied for the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF) relief scheme to assist them in paying workers during the Covid-19 crisis are only slowly trickling in.

This is despite looming payment dates for many employers. 

A look at the complaints from business owners on social media shows frustration over the bureaucratic process and red tape involved in claiming from the UIF’s Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Scheme (Ters). 

One Twitter user complained about having to fill out days of paperwork that he had to resubmit on more than one occasion as the fund requested changes to his documents.

Another complained about the automated system requiring different information, and once the application was complete they were not given a reference number or an indication that the application is being assessed. 

What was the reason? 

The view that claims aren’t being processed holds true when one looks at the figures.

To date, the UIF has received 39 000 applications and has only processed 136. 

The reason for this is that only 136 applications out of the entire batch were valid, UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping told Moneyweb. 

The UIF has had to remove 15 755 duplicate applications, leaving it with 23 245 applications. 

Only businesses that have had to partially or completely close their businesses on a temporary basis because of the nationwide lockdown meant to slow the spread of Covid-19 qualify for relief.

The process to apply for the Ters benefit requires an employer to apply online using this link or by sending a blank email to covid19ters@labour.gov.za that will be followed by an automated response with all the relevant forms and documents that need to be completed. 

One of the documents is a UIF Excel template. The employer is required to fill in the details of the business, the day it closed, and list its employees, along with the dates they started working, their ID or passport numbers, their refugee identity documents if applicable, and their remuneration. This document has to be converted to a CSV file format before it can be submitted. The UIF provides a guideline on how to do this here.

Maruping said only 16 534 applications were in the correct CSV file format and after further processing, only 136 files were eligible because they had all the correct information. 

“If you do the calculations you can already see the error rate we have is very high,” said Maruping. 

What do you get?

Maruping said 23 000 companies were sent emails on Saturday advising them to resubmit the correct file format and/or supply full information.

For instance, one critical piece of information that has been missing from many applications is the amount of remuneration the employee has received during the shutdown period.

“People think when we ask for this information we are just being pedantic but we need it to calculate the right amount that is due to a person,” said Maruping.

“Because we could calculate and give you less money and people will run into poverty or we could give you more and the UIF will run out of money and other people who are eligible will not get anything.” 

The UIF has set aside R40 billion for the Ters benefit.

The payout is not meant to cover an employee’s complete salary but between 38% and 60% of it. 

The maximum salary threshold to be considered is R17 712. This means that if you earn more than that amount you would not receive a percentage of your full salary but 38% of R17 712. But if your salary is less than the maximum threshold the UIF will determine the payout amount using an automated calculator based on the information given. 

The minimum amount the UIF will pay out is R3 500 and the maximum is around R6 730. An employer may supplement this benefit.

The value of the benefit for a company’s employees will either be transferred to an employer or the bargaining council that has a memorandum of agreement with the UIF, which will then pay individual member companies. If a business has fewer than 10 employees they must submit the individual bank account details of these employees and the UIF will pay the workers directly. 

Only businesses that contribute to the UIF qualify – and those that only registered their businesses with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission after March 15 will not be eligible.

At “worst”, said Maruping, an application that is valid will take 10 days to be processed and for payment to be processed.

To date, the UIF has paid R460 million in benefits but this figure is inclusive of all claims the UIF has settled and not just Covid-19 Ters claims. 

Work life after lockdown

Companies will only be able to apply for the Covid-19 Ters benefit during the lockdown period. The scheme covers salaries for three months starting from April or a lesser period.

The R40 billion that has been set aside by the UIF will be used to cover all the interventions it has put in place to cushion the blow. In addition to the Covid-19 Ters benefit specifically developed for this period, the money will cover benefits related to illness, the UIF “reduced work time” benefit for employees who have lost a portion of their income due to cut working hours and an existing Ters benefit unrelated to Covid-19.

Employers may apply for all of these benefits. Maruping could not provide details about how much of the R40 billion would go to each benefit. 

Maruping said the concern now is that if the lockdown goes beyond three months, the UIF’s balance sheet would be affected. 

“We would have to look at other ways of funding this thing – we cannot fund it beyond three months,” he said. 

The money going towards the intervention will come from the UIF’s reserves. Maruping said the UIF currently has investments of around R139 billion, more than 50% of which is in government bonds while the rest is in local equities, money market and other investments.

 But the UIF cannot just dip into this money as it needs it.

“Our approach to retrieving these funds will have to be really careful,” he said, explaining that a quick liquidation of these assets would have a ripple effect.

For instance, if the fund rushed to liquidate government bonds this would send a negative message to the market

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Exactly 39000 applications seems to be suspiciously round number, don’t you think?
And for only 136 of those applications to have been approved suggests that there’s something wrong with the process(ing), not the submission of info.

Why am I not surprised? Just pass a blanket we pay the minimum and get on with it!

They cannot even attend to the uif cases before the covid 19 from 19 November 2019. I don’t have money, no food!
Now they complain and what are they doing with new cases? Big stuff up, big!!

History repeats itself, ala dept of land allocations/payouts and most simple admin processes by the clowns.

10 days??? Surely the clerk working the application, gets the form, is it correct or not, if correct processes it and pays. IT allows for same day licence applications etc but this takes 10 days. Kids get hungry in 10 days.

Maybe the Commissioner is correct in that info send to them is incorrect, but no one knows what it is they want. I have submitted 6 claims for clients and all I get is an email of acknowledgment. Even this email doesn’t refer to the applicable claim. It is just a computer generated email. Four of the online claims did not exist the next day and I had to register again. The file provided to UIF gets created by a Payroll System that is up to date with what UIF wants. But not one claim have been processed to date and I have no idea if it is accepted or rejected. This has been going on for 2 weeks.

We registered 28/3, and on 1/4 received uif documents. There was no instruction regarding the file conversion to csv format.
12/4 received request to resubmit, with instructions. Not simple, and don’t bother trying to contact call centre.
It’s just stalling tactics, along with empty promises.
In the end, who looks bad, the business owner.

We have also already submitted several times. Firstly, the document was read only and could not be filled in properly. On Saturday email was received with instructions how to convert file to CSV format. Not an easy exercise and only received auto generated responses on our 4 applications. Trying to phone and get through on help line is another story.

My experience of an unrelated UIF process, that of submitting UIF returns and making payments for domestic helpers, suggests UIF processes/systems are poorly designed, especially after the mid/late 2019 upgrade.

Now is not the time to throw stones. Perhaps some of the country’s consulting firms can offer pro-bono support to UIF to work with and around what they have.

When the crisis abates, then the moratorium on stone-throwing should be lifted …

Nothing new. Uif is doing this for years. Making the application as complicated as possible to pay out the minimum. They are unresponsive and do not care. Most arguable the most inefficient department in government.

The requirements have changed several times. Further, in the guideline documents provided by the UIF, there are multiple errors. This will, of course, lead to errors in the actual submission.

Of course, the remuneration earned is blank. Someone needs to tell the commissioner that it’s not an error. Companies cannot afford to pay staff.

This is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off end April.

So most people got their March salaries of most of it, now when the crisis is hitting, the Dept of Labour is NOT WORKING.

This is showing how utterly useless they are.

Firstly most people have been caught out thinking that the UIF Ref number beginning with U on the SARS EMP201 form is actually the UIF Ref number but guess what? Its not and you cannot get hold of ANYONE in Dept of Labour (not working) or the UIF (not working) to confirm anything and they are just not responding to emails.

This will explode in many different ways. Watch.

I have hit a brick wall trying to register on UIF-Covid-19 TERS National Disaster Application system.
Does not accept our valid UIF registration number. I have tried each and every possibility as indicated on the Application guide.
1. Dropping the U
2. Guide refers to example: 1234567/8 ( 8 digit number and ‘/’ symbol
3. Instruction on how to convert page refers to UIF reference number being 9 ( fixed length, must contain ‘/’ character
3. UIF number as on our EMP201 and SARS Payroll Tax notice reflects the same number
Question: Can someone assist me please. No format i have tried is working…..

Hi Odette

When you register for UIF the department will send you a letter via post with your 8 digit UIF reference number, if you don’t have that paper then you can also check on one of your UI-19 forms because you should have written that unique number on that form when registering any employee to your company.

If that doesn’t help, I received an email address where you can email UIF requesting your number, if you don’t come right give me your email address and I will find it and send it to you.

Hope this helps

Regards
Dominique

Odette, check your UI-19’s – they should show the UIF registration nr. This does unfortunately differ from the “registration nr” per EMP201’s. The nr you’ve been trying (the one shown on EMP201’s, and the one that is then sometimes proceeded by a U), is essentially the entity’s PAYE ref nr with SARS.

Thank you Dominique & Eric

Dominique, please send me the email link.
odette@brandsigns.co.za

Another chimeric Ramapromises promise, revealed to be as substantial as thin air when the chips are down…

Some us as foreigners we alredy received letters from the company saying foreigners dont get UIF fund.. And paycut of 30% is intruduced for May and maybe further.. so my question is why do we pay UIF fund every month while it never help us anyway?

This is a lie. Foreigners are eligible for UIF Covid19 TERS.

Piternyax, I’m busy with the online application, and the 2nd field to be completed for the employee is whether they are South African or foreign. If I select “foreign” then it changes needing an ID nr, to needing a passport nr. SO, please know that it certainly now looks like foreigners CAN benefit under the UIF Covid19 TERS. Maybe your employer had the incorrect information at the time of writing your letter? Employers have unfortunately had a tough time with this…

PS. I agree with you, if you contribute to UIF then surely you should have the same potential UIF benefits as anyone else!

Their systems were extremely efficient at collecting money with reserves now totaling around R139 billion.I’m sure no money was returned due to incorrect submission formats. Claiming is another matter altogether.

Someone said the fund is bankrupt

I can tell you why: there have been more than 3 directives as to HOW to submit. Then, having submitted in the format as per the LAST email yesterday, a NEW email is received that we must register on line. THAT is a no-go as their web site keeps bombing out. I will try again later in the night. AND the conversion to CSV that they insist on is a MAJOR undertaking, far beyond the capabilities of most small business owners!!

I gave up trying to register my Domestic years ago : Quite happy to keep paying her during the lockdown as its less stressful than dealing with UIF .

Hello, I would just like to mention regarding the applications to UIF covid 19 assistance. I have been trying to apply for assistance from the 27th of March and it is a very very difficult process. 1st there were all the employee forms to fill in. Initially Companies were not allowed to apply on behalf of their employees, then there came the TERS application which was when I received the document at the beginning of the 1st week was still worded for training etc. There were 7+ documents that needed to be completed incl a 4 slide powerpoint slide show, financial statements, managements accounts, cashflow projections etc. When I finally managed to complete all these documents and was looking for the email address to send, I came accross a new process, now the company could and were encouraged to apply on behalf of the employees with a whole bunch of new forms and In specific CSV formats, 3 months proof of payroll etc etc, 5 documents. I completed these and sent them finally by last Thursday, I received another auto reply which stated that there are additional forms and the ones I did complete also changed, had extra columns and we were asked to please resubmit on the new forms. This happened just before the long weekend thus no response from UIF when you called till today! I resent the forms yesterday (Easter Monday) hoping to be 1st in the queue for process. So saying employees are not trying is only half the story
Yesterday I was informed the whole process has now moved online and we must register and resubmit the documents! This is now the 6th set of documents and process I have completed since the 27th of March.
I will give credit where its due, the last process is by far the easiest and most painless, largely maybe because I already had the documents that must be uploaded in the right formats, so I sincerely hope our employees can be assisted now!

When I was involved in forms design there were some simple rules 1) get necessary details only 2) ensure that the information flowed logically 3) that a 3 year old could completer the form accurately and without referral to an official. Clearly these principles have not been applied and the official that you need to refer to doesn’t exist, is having tea, talking to some unknown, or is incompetent. I trust that the voting public remember these incidents when it comes voting time again and that this time they make the right choice of government

maybe now we know why the UIF has an enormous surplus built up! If RAF made it harder for lawyers it too could have a surplus.

Here is hoping that it is a real surplus and not a theoretical one. Like having a credit with SAA.

Same here. Have ppl that will have NO income come end of April. Had to resubmit documents. Excel spread sheet have incorrect formula cause guide lines says dd-mm-yyyy, but excel only allow yyyy-mm-dd, then cannot convert into their required. csv file from a Mac computer.

This UIF is really fustrating,while they are busy paying all those people, they forgot about the people receiving the UIF already (Maternity leave ect), still waiting for the sms that they said they will send for re-signing, and their website is blocking us and the UIF support email doesnt respond. I wonder what they expect us to feed our newborns

My business owner friends say they have completed all the necessary paperwork THEN UIF said they needed more. I think it’s an internal problem. The Blame game

With all due respect to the commissioner the statement that UIF relief is held up as a result of non compliance by employers is simply not true.
Not true as far as employers that are genuinely concerned about the well being of their employees. We have now submitted the required documents four times. We double checked every submission but the department keeps changing the format – certainly not a deliberate action from employers.It is extremely frustrating to say the least.
We are more than aware of the difficulties faced by everybody, that is why we patiently re-submitted the applications as and when the department changed the playing field. All for the sake of our employees.
I sincerely hope that the on-line submission was the last and that our employees will receive their benefits timeously.

Firstly the numbers just do not make sense. I am looking at submissions done on entities that have 225 employees, 131 employees approved, 4 denied and 90 employees just disappeared from the application with absolutely no reason.

Controls appear to be lacking

Loaded all the information on the COVID19TERS online portal after sending the documents through; National Disaster spreadsheet in CSV format, proof of payroll , stamped bank statements etc
There seems to be an error on the online portal now.
When you get to the ” Salary during lock down” column, and you want to start typing, ENTER LEAVE PAY now pops up. ( never did before )
No wages or leave pay has been paid during the lock down period.
I filled this column in as zero for all the other applications as well, and payment has been processed successfully; yet the last one was declined as the “ ” Salary during lock down” was captured as zero .
My online profile reflects the last submission as a declined payment ; yet the three applications loaded prior to this one has been processed successfully. Reason for declining “ Leave pay 0.00 Error” …….if you look at the online form there is no Leave pay column, it only pops up if you click to start typing…….either way it will be zero as no payment was received of any kind !
Anyone else have this problem?

End of comments.

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