Workers at a tomato plant in Limpopo (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)
  • Many companies are still experiencing problems accessing the special Covid-19 UIF payouts available for their employees.
  • Common problems include that only some staff are getting payments, and that foreign workers are not being paid.
  • Business Insider asked the UIF to provide guidance on these issues.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

While the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has now paid out some R9.5 billion in special Covid-19 benefits – which should reach 1.9 million workers – some companies are still experiencing major problems in accessing the money.

Workers who are put on leave, have been laid off temporarily, or whose employers can’t afford to pay their full salaries are entitled to a special payout from the UIF, the so-called Covid-19 Temporary Relief (TERS) payments. The maximum a worker will get is R6,730 a month (if you earn more than R17,700) – while the minimum amount is R3,500. The average amount paid out so far is R5,000.

The National Employers Association of South Africa (NEASA), which represents more than 10,000 members, says by Friday more than half of its members did not receive their UIF payments – and only 45% of those who received payment, agree, in general, with the amounts received.

Many employers have contacted Business Insider SA, reporting common problems in getting the TERS payments.

We asked the UIF to respond to some of the major frustrations applicants still have:

Only some employees received money

Last week week, the UIF published a list of all the companies that have received TERS money.

READ | Top SA companies received UIF crisis money – how to check if your employer got any

Some companies on the list contacted Business Insider SA to report that only a handful of their staff got paid, but the majority of employees received no money. They said they had received no explanation, and that there was no obvious difference between the applicants.

UIF response: "When we receive applications from employers, we verify the information [on] our system to ensure that the employees they are claiming for are registered and pay monthly contributions to the Fund. When we identify inconsistencies, we send an enquiry to the employer for more information and evidence which may, regrettably, cause delays for us to approve and pay some of their employees.

"However, the reasons may vary for each company. Some of the common delays include employers claiming for workers that are not on our database; incorrect banking details, incomplete details of employees; and employers not declaring their workers to the UIF on a monthly basis, as required by the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Act of 2016. We urge employers to submit the required information or contact us so we can approve and pay the declined workers claims if they meet criteria."

Foreigners who are legally employed are not being paid

UIF response: "The reason for this is that firstly, our system does not recognise passport numbers because they are different from the ID numbers.

"Secondly, we have found that most foreign nationals have not been declared by employers as required by the law. However, we are working with SARS to assist us with information from employers who make contributions through them so that we can verify and validate claims of employees who are not on our database."

The UIF said that companies should receive outstanding payments due to foreign nationals from this week.

The amount paid by the UIF doesn’t match up with the company’s own calculation

The TERS money is paid, in one lump sum, directly into companies’ bank accounts, and they have to then pay it to the workers. But some companies did not receive any guidance from the UIF about how the money should be split among the employees.

READ | Covid-19 UIF pay: Firms are receiving millions, but some are unsure how much to pay each worker

UIF response: "Employers are encouraged to write to us on covid19postpaymentenquiries@labour.gov.za to query payment received."

Struggling to get hold of the UIF

This is the most common problem among the companies who contacted Business Insider.

UIF response "We are receiving a huge volume calls on a daily basis and encourage our clients to be patient when contacting our Call Centre. We recently added 200 call centre agents and we hope this will improve the service. Clients can also get in touch on Twitter (@UIFBenefits) and Facebook (@UIFZa)."

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