UIF hits R40bn sweet spot to ‘ease lockdown blues’

A queue of residents in Mamelodi can be seen outside the Municipal Offices waiting to be helped with their UIF claims, 1 July 2020, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The labour department’s latest Ters figures just made the deadline for the scheme’s extension on Saturday. It said by the end of the disaster period, the UIF will have paid out more money than initially ‘promised’.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) was in good spirits on Friday, after hitting the “magic figure” of R40 billion in Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) payments. 

This translates to 9,087,133 payments through 779,429 companies throughout the country. 

The deadline for Ters applications is Saturday. On Wednesday, Moneyweb reported that the system was not yet open for new applications for the Ters extension. 

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said not only did the UIF keep their promise in honouring billions in disbursements, but that due to the Ters extension, the UIF will end up having paid “much more than we promised” by the end of the disaster period. 

“This is a good South African story – a story of how a public entity managed to inject so much cash into the economy and thus helping it in one of the most trying periods.” 

UIF communication and marketing director, Makhosonke Buthelezi, explained that the Ters benefit has helped mitigate economic damage “by ensuring that workers continue to receive salaries to be able to buy food and meet some of their financial obligations, thus ensuring that economic activity is maintained during lockdown.”

Buthelezi said the UIF’s systems had been increased since Covid-19 to handle multiple translations daily. Since the beginning of July, he said payments were run twice a day. 

However, there are all outstanding Ters claims which must be fulfilled. 

Nexus said as per an agreement between the UIF and the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), July and August claims will be processed from Monday, and outstanding payments from April, May and June will be “speedily settled”. 

So far, April saw claims to the value of R20 billion paid to over four million workers through 389,233 employers. 

Payments for May are currently at R10.9 billion for 2,704,763 workers through 168,089 employers. 

June paid 2,340,531 workers R8.6 billion. 

R1.5 billion of the payments were made directly to employees. Domestic workers have so far received more than R200 million, and a further R1.5 billion has been paid out to foreign nationals. 

Buthelezi said there have been a number of challenges involved in distributing Ters payments, including failed bank verification, undeclared employees, and employers claiming that salaries received during the lockdown period were more or equal to normal salaries. 

The UIF does not pay out for employees who earn more than R6,700 per month. 

Invalid or missing IDs and applications with already active claims within the UIF have also bogged down the system. These include unemployment or maternity benefit claims that were never closed by employers. 

“This is a cause for celebration,” Nxesi enthused.

“It is also a cause for reflection that will allow us to find better ways to serve the people in this country. Under the most trying of circumstances, we have been able to rise to the occasion. 

“Where there were mistakes, we have corrected them and are continually ensuring that we improve.”

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