In his lockdown speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to prioritize the lives and livelihoods of all South Africans.
The president further assured the apprehensive nation that he will use all measures within his government’s power to protect employers and employees from the economic consequences of the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
The Minister of Employment and Labour, T.W Nxesi corroborated with the President’s address by announcing measures that the Department will put in place under the current special circumstance relating to the Coronavirus and its impact on Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) contributors.
Following the Minister’s announcement, the UIF Commissioner, Teboho Maruping, after consultation with UIF’s Executive and the Board developed the COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (COVID-19 TERS) to contribute to the containment of the pandemic.
According to Maruping, the UIF is ready to assist affected workers and companies.
“First and foremost, I would like to wish everyone who has contracted the virus a speedy recovery and urge people to continue adhering to the health and safety measures from the Department of Health to limit the spread of the virus.
“As a caring organisation, we will continue monitoring the situation and assist workers and companies to limit the negative financial impact of the COVID -19 on workers, business and our economy,” said Maruping.
He further noted that there are malcontents who always want to take advantage of such noble initiatives by engaging in criminal activities, fraudulently submitting fake papers.
“I would also like to caution workers and companies that submitting a fraudulent claim is a criminal act that will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Maruping.
What is COVID-19 TERS?
According to LegalWise, TERS is a special benefit created under the UIF. It aims to provide emergency relief to employers so that they may continue to pay their employees during a temporary lay-off.
The benefits under TERS are available to an employer who closes its operations due to the COVID-19 crisis for a period of three months or less and as a result, is in financial distress.
It is important to note that the employer submits a claim for the TERS benefit and, if successful, pays the necessary over to its employees.
The benefit will be capped to a maximum threshold of R17 712.00 (may change from time to time) and will be calculated in terms of the income replacement rate sliding scale as provided in the Unemployment Insurance Act (from 38% for high earners up to 60% for low earners.
Affected workers of non-compliant employers have also been invited to apply for the relief fund so that they are not compromised because their employers are not UIF compliant.
Upon receiving an application of such employees, the UIF will process the application and take the employer to task for the money that they owe UIF. The UIF has set 10 days as the turnaround time for those who approach the body.
How to apply for COVID-19 TERS
To mitigate the impact of the national lockdown on workers, businesses and the economy, the UIF will be electronically processing applications for the COVID-19 TERS Benefit.
According to the government, employers that are unable to pay the full salaries of the workers they send home for their health and safety due to the lockdown are encouraged to apply for the
Apply for COVID-19 TERS
This can be done sending an email to [email protected]
Upon sending the email, applicants will receive an automated reply which outlines all the steps and details, including the requirements to claim benefits.
Note that during the lockdown period, manual claims will not be accepted to reduce contact between people to curtail the spread of the pandemic.
You are guaranteed of this relief if your employer is registered with the UIF and complies with the application procedure. The Employer must also provide information that the company closure is linked to the COVID-19
Is COVID19 TERS linked to other UIF Benefits?
This is a frequently asked question as people struggle to differentiate the UIF from this special TERS initiative. Well, the answer is, no. The COVID-19 TERS Benefit is de-linked from the other UIF Benefits and other processes, however, applications are subjected to normal verification and validation processes of the Fund.
It is also important to note that this intervention is only applicable to workers laid off as from the beginning of April when the lockdown was announced. If anyone was laid off before April, they are ineligible for the fund as they were not directly affected by COVID 19 lockdown.
Employers are also expected to have paid the March salaries minus the last four days of March when the shutdown started.
In case you have more enquiries, UIF has developed a hotline number: 012 337 1997 for COVID–19 TERS Benefit enquiries during the lockdown period.
Workers, companies, and stakeholders are urged to follow @DeptofLabour and @UIFbenefits on Twitter and visit www.labour.gov.za for regular updates.