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  • Some 27,000 businesses have applied for a new emergency benefit introduced by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
  • The first claims as part of a new coronavirus scheme will be paid this week. 
  • Companies need to register with the UIF to secure payouts for their staff.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page

By Wednesday last week, some 27,000 companies had applied for the new coronavirus benefit which will be paid out by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

Called the Covid-19 Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS), payments will start this week, a UIF spokesperson told Business Insider.

Businesses who can't afford to pay full salaries during the lockdown must apply for TERS through the UIF. 

Companies will have to prove that they suffered a severe knock from the lockdown. If approved, the UIF will pay out money per worker for up to three months.

TERS payments

The payouts work on the same principle as maternity benefits currently paid by the UIF. If a company can still afford to pay employees a part of their salaries, the TERS money will “top up” these payments – but employees can’t earn more than 100% of their current salaries.

The amounts paid will be a percentage of an employee’s salary, according to a legislated sliding scale from 38% (highest earners) to 60% (lowest earners)

The maximum you will get is R6 730 a month. The sliding scale stops at R17 702: All workers earning more than this will only get the 38% maximum benefit (R6 730). The minimum amount will not be below the minimum wage (around R3 500).

Businesses must have been registered with the UIF before the crisis started to qualify for the benefits. 

Employers who are unable to pay the full salaries of workers during the lock down period must send an email to Covid19ters@labour.gov.za, and enquiries about the scheme can be made at 0800 030 007.

The UIF can take up to ten business days to review applications.

The UIF has set aside R40 billion to pay these claims, President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week.

Some 1.5 million companies in South Africa pay contributions to the UIF on behalf of their workers.

READ | Claiming money from the UIF: Everything you need to know

Over recent days, some TERS applicants received messages from the UIF that they have to resubmit some of their documents after using the incorrect format.

But the UIF spokesperson stressed that only companies who received messages have to resubmit their documents.

Normal UIF claims

The UIF also said this weekend that those who are receiving UIF payouts for being unemployed; unable to work due to sickness; or maternity leave, will get an SMS message to confirm their unemployment status and banking details.

They should not visit Labour Centres during the lockdown. Claimants are supposed to submit physical proof every month that they remain unemployment. During lockdown, this will be replaced with SMS confirmation.

The UIF's electronic claims site, Ufiling.co.za, saw almost 478,000 visits last week as more people find themselves out of work in an economic shutdown. Before the national lockdown, around 50,000 people would visit the site every day.

The fund is now paying out R18 million a day in claims for unemployment, illness, maternity leave, or “reduced working time” (when an employer cuts an employee’s hours). This is around R3 million more than before the crisis.

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