The Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) benefit has been temporarily suspended, following the identification of control deficiencies within the Ters system.
According to Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) spokesperson Makhosonke Buthelezi, these control ‘deficiencies’ include inconsistencies regarding past payments made to people who are deceased, imprisoned, or who are minors.
The Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) alerted the Department of Labour to the irregularities.
Buthelezi confirms that the department is investigating the AGSA’s findings.
“This issue is under investigation, however, we normally check IDs against the Home Affairs database. That is why in some cases we’ve been able to stop payments where Home Affairs confirms that the applicant is deceased,” Buthelezi says.
When asked by Moneyweb if this is an indication of corruption within the department or by applicants, he alludes to the fact that the department has previously made attempts to put control measures in place.
“Some of the things we’ve done to curb fraud include bank verification prior to payment, blocking the payment where anomalies are detected such as multiple UIF reference numbers against one bank account, and we’ve also introduced business rules to deal with some of the control deficiencies like payments to underage or overage claimants. We’re still going to appoint a team of auditors to follow up on all payments made,” Buthelezi says.
This is not the first challenge which the department has been faced with since the benefit was implemented.
As reported previously, applications for May opened late, at midnight on May 26. Applications for June opened late, on June 24, and closed almost immediately because of security and data breach issues, with functionality only restored in the second weekend of July.
In July scammers were warned that the security of the UIF Ters benefit payment system had been tightened.
Buthelezi acknowledges that the system was upgraded to prevent further fraudulent activities.
“Yes, the system was upgraded and hence we introduced bank verification process which involves cross-checking information with Home Affairs, Sars and the CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission).”
While the department has identified a number of anomalies in respect to past payments made to persons, it will be comparing its database with that of the Department of Home Affairs in an attempt to rectify this situation going forward.
Buthelezi says it is unclear how long payments will be suspended.
Who has been paid?
According to the National Employers Association of South Africa:
- 12% of employers still haven’t received their April payments and of the 88% of employers who received payment, only 68% were paid in full.
- 19% of employers still haven’t received their May benefit; of the 81% who received payment, only 69% were paid in full.
- 30% of employers are still waiting for their June payments; of the 70% who received payment, only 77% were paid in full.
- 95% of employers still haven’t received their July benefit; of the 5% who received payment, only 47% were paid in full.
Those wanting to receive April and May benefits have been told that they have until September 15 to apply, but because the outcome of the investigation is still dependent on the National Economic Development and Labour Council, this can no longer be confirmed.
“I’m unfortunately not sure when the outcome from Nedlac [can] be expected,” Buthelezi says.
Listen: Werksmans labour law specialist Sandile July explains to Nompu Siziba how UIF Ters scheme applicants may still apply for the benefit, given a new directive (or read the transcript here):