Labour minister clears confusion about Covid-19 relief benefits

28 April by LUYOLO MKENTANE

Thulas Nxesi calls on employers to be honest about their workforce and help with applications to Ters, which scheme is administered by the UIF.

Employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi has moved to clear confusion about the allocation of Covid-19 relief benefits and called on employers to be honest about how the process works.

“There are several complaints from some employers who say we paid a lump sum and that they don’t know how to allocate it,” said Nxesi, during a media briefing by economic cluster ministers in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Nxesi said the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters), which he established on March 25 to provide relief to those in formal employment expected to lose their income due to the coronavirus lockdown, does not make lump sum payments.

Ters is administered by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). The amount of the benefit is based on a sliding scale of between 38% and 60% of earnings, where the lowest paid are at the top of the scale.

“[Employers] must just be honest … we pay [the benefits] based on the payroll submitted by the employer [containing] all the figures. We don’t pay the whole amount but 38% [of relief funding] because it’s relief we have budgeted for for three months. We will see what happens after three months,” said Nxesi.

The minister called on employers to help their workers claim from Ters, saying some 20,000 employees who were entitled to claim for benefits have not yet done so. “Some employers don’t even care to help employees [to apply to Ters] and we continue to appeal to them to help us.”

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu echoed Nxesi by appealing to employers in the farming and domestic sectors to apply to the Ters scheme because “there are vulnerable workers who could benefit from this but [aren’t]”.

The UIF has received more than 103,000 applications from employers representing about 1,75-million employees.

The UIF has more than 1.8-million employers registered on its database representing more than 8-million workers. As of Monday, an amount of R3.3bn in relief funding has been disbursed to beneficiaries.

The employment and labour department said that of the 103,000 applications received it has processed 59,000, “which means that more than 862,000 employees will receive their benefit”.

About 10,000 applications could not be processed by the department due to errors and the affected companies have been notified to correct their applications and resubmit them. Some of the errors pertained to incorrect banking details, making it impossible for payments to be processed. 

The department said it is working around the clock to meet the “extraordinary volumes of requests” for assistance presented by the Covid-19 pandemic; and that it has increased capacity at its call centre to positively respond to the challenge.

Source: Businesslive at https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/labour/2020-04-28-labour-minister-clears-confusion-about-covid-19-relief-benefits/