Chinks widening in UIF department’s armour

7 July 2020 by Michael Bagraim

The administration of the UIF seems to be completely overwhelmed and Commissioner Teboho Maruping, who is working around the clock, does not seem to have the administrative support for the crisis. Despite warning the crisis was coming and the SA Revenue Services offering to step in, it is destined to get worse.

Retrenchments are predicted to reach anything up to a further 10million people, which will at least double the amount of unemployed in South Africa. Each person being retrenched will have a claim for UIF benefits. These claims are starting to trickle in.

We don’t see any plans from the Department of Employment and Labour as to how they are going to cope with these numbers. Already the UIF seems to be drowning and already there is talk of inadequate financing.

Hopefully the desperate plea from the Minister of Finance will mean that the Department of Labour will get extra funding for the UIF.ADVERTISING

One thing the Department of Employment and Labour has done is send out a communique listing people who can at least try to help. For employees who are applying for UIF benefits, contact Ilse Lucas at ilse.lucas@labour.gov.za or 0214418146; or Chandrey Hector at chandrey.hector@labour.gov.za, phone number 0214418188.

If employers are having uFiling problems they can contact Granville van Wyk at Granville.vanwyk@labour.gov.za or Johannes Tlome at Johannes.tlome@labour.gov.za or 0823021808. You can also contact Cwayita Mvunge at cwayita.Mvunge@labour.gov.za or 0827906508; or Desmond Brown at desmondnicolaas.brown@labour.gov.za or 0824508713.

Those struggling with Ters ufiling should email shaka.dladla@labour.gov.za. You can view the names of the employees approved or declined by going on to the website: https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19/paymentstatusjsp (Use your UIF reference number.) For general queries contact the central call centre: 0800030007 or 0123371997.

I have personally tried many of these numbers and email addresses and occasionally it does work, so be patient and keep trying.

I can personally vouch for Commissioner Maruping who has been incredibly responsive almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I know he is overwhelmed and I send out a salute to him and his senior management who at least are trying, in the face of the administration failure. 

I also want to praise Jeffrey Maluleke who has been answering me daily almost every 10 minutes. This disastrous period of our employment history has shown up the various cracks and chinks in the armour. What hopefully will happen at the end is a restructure of our labour environment.

Last week we had the quarterly review which said unemployment had reached 30% before Covid-19. Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma predicted we would reach 50% by the end of June.

We are also facing an unprecedented amount of cases being referred to the CCMA. The CCMA has been working around the clock planning for a tsunami of new referrals. There is a newly-launched digital case referral and application platform which can be accessed on cmsonline.ccma.org.za

This free digital platform is fantastic and you can use it to enforce awards, submit condonation applications or even late referrals of the disputes.

The Compensation Fund is also going to be facing enormous claims. Employers have to be extremely careful to follow the regulations. If the minute regulations are broken the employer might become liable for the spread of the disease. As soon as a person is ill and is tested positive this must be reported to the Department of Employment and Labour and the Department of Health. Furthermore, if the person is sick for more than two weeks then a claim must be submitted to the Compensation Fund.

The administration of the fund is close to useless, however, and thousands of employees are complaining about unpaid medical bills and benefits. Many doctors and medical facilities are refusing to treat workmen’s compensation patients. 

Bearing this in mind, and the fact the Compensation Fund will be facing a tidal wave of claims over the Covid-19 period, this is a plea to the department to turn to the private sector for help. 

Many insurance companies and medical aids have the ability to help with the administration of these claims. I would love to see private enterprise hold out a hand of friendship to the department.

Source: IOL at https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/opinion/chinks-widening-in-uif-departments-armour-50261287