The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) will open and begin processing the July/August Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefit applications from August 17.
This follows the signing of the new directive on the extended period of benefits by Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi on August 11.
According to the new directive, an employer, or employee, may claim Covid-19 TERS benefits for the extension period starting from July 1 until August 15.
The new directives cover three categories of employees whose employers are not permitted to commence operations under the Disaster Management Regulations or are unable to make alternative arrangements for vulnerable workers, such as working from home or taking special measures under the Occupational Health and Safety Direction to protect them.
Thirdly, the new directives also cover employees and employers who are unable to make use of their services because of operational requirements caused by compliance with the regulations and directions such as rostering, staggering working hours, short time and the introduction of shift systems.
The application process remains the same for the extension period and all claims must be lodged through the online portals of the UIF or Department of Employment and Labour (DEL).
The UIF will issue a letter to employers who have applied for Covid-19 TERS benefits outlining the process to be followed when making applications for the extension period, and will also update the frequently asked questions (FAQs) document to serve as a quick reference for applicants.
The updated FAQs, new directive and explanatory memo will be available on the DEL website.
UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping says that, as with the previous claim process, to apply in the new period, employers are required to upload similar documentation that includes a signed approval or acceptance letter, bank confirmation letter, proof of payment to employees and refund to the UIF, if applicable.
“In keeping with strict governance principles, we will still subject payments to bank verification prior to releasing the funds into the applicant’s accounts.”
He adds that the immediate past has taught the UIF that even under the pandemic, criminals are at large and looking to benefit. “We have an obligation to do everything in our power to ensure that funds are not paid into the incorrect accounts.”
The new directive and the extension have been subject to robust discussion with social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council and they have agreed that the cut-off date for the application window for April and May will be September 15.
All new applications for these periods must be uploaded on or before this date to qualify for processing and payment.
“Existing claims will remain open for corrections and finalisation beyond this date,” says Maruping.
Employers who experience technical difficulty in creating, or accessing, their profile should immediately contact the call centre 0800 030 007 for assistance. A reference number will be issued that will enable resolution follow-up and, in the event of non-resolution by application cut-off date, it will serve as evidence of efforts to comply within the timeframe.