29 September 2020 by Melitta Ngalonkulu
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) will open applications for the period August 16 to September 15 on Thursday.
This is for the second extension as announced by Employment and Labour Minister Thembelani Nxesi earlier in September, with new directives for industries still affected by the lockdown regulations.
A day after the extension was announced payments were suspended. This followed an Auditor-General investigation which found that millions of rands were being paid out to people who are not eligible for the relief – including those who receive social grants, prisoners, foreigners and children younger than 15.
Payments resumed last week Monday (September 21). The fund is however still facing processing challenges, despite undergoing a system upgrade to mitigate the risks associated with payments to ineligible parties.
Natalie Singer, a Business for South Africa (B4SA) representative on the UIF operational task team, confirms that challenges remain regarding bank verification for more than 90 000 employers. However, initiatives are underway to advise these employers on how to address the issues with their banking information on the system to enable verification before payment.
“Declarations of employees is still the largest reason for non-payment of benefits and employers are reminded to ensure that employees are declared via uFiling or the eDeclaration system on their payroll systems,” Singer says.
However, UIF spokesperson Makhosonke Buthelezi disputes that any ‘system glitches’ or challenges were experienced in the past week.
“I am not aware of any system challenges. As far as I am aware the system works perfectly and we have not had any breakdowns or system glitches,” he says.
Buthelezi says the system has shown signs of significant improvement in detecting and stopping potential fraudulent claims.
It has picked up and rejected 193 applications from deceased persons, 1 668 from government employees, two from incarcerated individuals and 1 968 involving invalid identity documents.
“We believe that the system is tight enough and that is why we resumed payments. We only need to [continue] to verify the ID numbers against the Home Affairs and Sassa [South African Social Security Agency] systems,” he said.
In the past week more than R1 billion in Ters benefits has been paid out.
Slow to respond
Apart from the (alleged) system glitches experienced, there is a huge concern with how the fund fails to respond to applicants’ queries on time or at all.
Buthelezi is confident that this challenge will be solved this week, as many UIF employees will be back at work.
“The regulations from the Department of Public Service and Administration only came out on Friday so from tomorrow [Tuesday] onwards there will be more people coming back to work, but we need to ensure that the environment is prepared in terms of social distancing. Hopefully, once we have 50% or more of our employees back at work, we will be able to respond to those queries,” Buthelezi says.
He adds that the UIF system has been updated so that clients can update their details if necessary.
Source: Moneyweb at https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/august-september-ters-benefit-applications-open-this-week/