Photo: UIF

  • Three million South African workers received special coronavirus-related payouts from the UIF for April.
  • Applications for May opened on Thursday.
  • The payouts are due to end in June, but government can decide to extend it – though smaller payments are expected.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Workers and companies can now apply for special coronavirus payouts from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), for the month of May - after a freak cable break delayed the process by a day.

So far the UIF has paid out more than R15 billion in Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) payments, covering the period between the start of lockdown to the end of April. Three million workers have received money.

Prominent companies received money, including Sasol, Mr Price, Damelin, a number of Bidvest businesses, some Protea hotels and Engen service stations, as well as individual Spur, Wimpy and McDonald’s restaurants.

Workers who are put on leave, have been laid off temporarily, or whose employers can’t afford to pay their full salaries due to the coronavirus crisis are entitled to the TERS payouts.

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.

Employers had to apply on behalf of employees, and then received a payment from the UIF, which had to be paid to their workers.

But a lot has changed since the first applications were accepted in April:

The TERS payments were supposed to run only to the end of June, but government is assessing whether payments can be extended, labour minister Thulas Nxesi said recently. He warned, however, that the UIF may be forced to reduce the benefit. 

How to avoid submission problems

Many applicants have complained about major frustrations with the process, with only some workers getting paid and discrepancies about the amounts due.

READ | UIF Covid-19 payout trouble: These are the most common problems holding back the cash

One major complaint is with rejected TERS submissions. 

Arlene Leggat, executive committee member of the South African Payroll Association (SAPA), says that small, seemingly insignificant discrepancies in submissions are seen as mistakes and will lead to the submission being rejected.

Everything from the date formats to the termination dates must be written in a specific way, precisely as the template stipulates, to avoid the application being rejected by the system.  

“There are two different date formats to use in the application, for example. The header date in the application doesn’t have dashes, but the dates in the data section have dashes. Using a comma instead of a decimal point or full stop, for example, will be seen as incorrect by the system. The termination date on the application is also causing a lot of confusion. This date refers to people who have left your employ during this period, if they are still employed, it must be blank. Little discrepancies like these have led to many companies’ applications being rejected,” says Leggat.

While the process can be frustrating, Leggat says an employer’s best bet is to download the guidelines that are available on the Department of Labour’s website and do a line-by-line comparison between the template and submission.

“Take the sample template that has been issued on the site, put it next to your file, and go through the submission slowly and diligently to make sure that that you have provided everything in the required format. If your submission is 100% aligned with the sample template, then you should get paid,” says Leggat.

READ | Step-by-step guide to applying for TERS payments

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