Labour Department pays out R1.1 billion Covid-19 benefits to workers

20 April 2020 by Sizwe Dlamini

CAPE TOWN – The Department of Employment and Labour announced on Monday that it had paid a cumulative R1.1 billion to beneficiaries of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), from April 16 to date.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said in a statement that as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department had issued a directive for relief to be provided to contributors who had lost income or required to take annual leave as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The UIF is working round the clock to meet the extraordinary volumes of requests for assistance presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Covid-19 benefit scheme will provide much-needed relief to employees who have been laid off work or unable to earn an income due to Covid-19,” said Nxesi.

The minister said to date, the UIF has received just over 55 268 applications from employers representing about 1 601 767 employees. In total, the UIF has more than 1.8 million employers registered on its database representing more than 8 million workers.

Of the received applications, the UIF has processed 37 673 employer applications which meant 606 462 employees would receive their benefit, according to the statement released by the Department. About 9 938 applications could not be processed due to errors and the affected companies had been notified to correct their applications and resubmit. “Some of the errors identified relate to incorrect banking details, making it impossible for payments to be processed.”

Nxesi called on employers who were registered with UIF to apply for the Covid-19 benefits through the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) on behalf of their employees.

The Minister acknowledged that the UIF system was under pressure, saying the fund was experiencing extraordinary volumes of requests due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nxesi said the Department was in discussion with other public entities as well as the private sector to build additional capacity in order to fast track the processing of applications and payments.

“We have acknowledged that our system was not designed to accommodate the increased volumes of requests that we are witnessing due to the Covid-19. We have already taken steps to mitigate this risk. 

“We have asked the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to work with us to resolve the backlog we are currently experiencing. SARS has responded positively and they are sending a team to work with the UIF to ensure that we distribute funds to deserving beneficiaries as swift and cost-efficient as possible.

“We have equally engaged other private sector companies to work with UIF to enhance the capacity of our IT system to respond to the growing number of requests,” he said.

Apart from the Covid-19 TERS benefits, the Department said it was continuing to pay normal benefits. The Department said as part of being more responsive to claimants, the UIF call centre which initially had 75 agents, had increased its capacity and now had 200 agents manning the toll-free number (0800 030 007). “More call center agents will be added should the need arise.”

Employers can apply via www.ufiling.co.za or contact the UIF on 0800 030 007.

Source: IOL at https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/economy/labour-department-pays-out-r11-billion-covid-19-benefits-to-workers-46945966