If the lockdown has reduced your income and you were contributing to the UIF, you may be eligible for some relief from the fund’s temporary benefit scheme.

People are queuing outside the department of labour to apply for UIF benefits. /Nardus Engelbrecht / Gallo Images
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If the lockdown has reduced your income and you were registered and contributing to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, you may be eligible for some relief from the fund’s temporary benefit scheme, known as the Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (Ters)

The way the benefits are being calculated is complicated, the regulations have been updated since they were first implemented and there have been problems at the UIF office getting such a big scheme up and running.

According to the Department of Labour some three million employees benefitted from more than R15bn in Ters benefits the fund disbursed over the past five weeks for pay lost in April. 

Online applications for benefits for May opened yesterday. 

The minimum benefit you can get if your income has dried up completely is R3,500 and the maximum benefit if you are earning more than R17,712 a month is R6,638. 

In between this, there is a lot of confusion about who can get the benefit and how much. Sowetan Money asked Rob Cooper, chairman of the Payroll Authors Group of South Africa, to answer some common questions. 

Q: My employer says it has applied for the UIF Ters benefit for me but has not yet been paid. How do I know if this is true?

A: The Ters benefit application process for May is expected to include significantly improved look-up features that will allow both employers and employees to enquire on the status of Ters benefit applications as well as Ters benefit payouts.

Currently there is a spreadsheet you can download at https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19/paidEntitiesList

Q: Is it true that I can now apply for myself for the UIF Ters benefit and it will be paid directly into my bank account?

A: Yes. This will be part of the new process. If you, as an employee apply directly, and your employer has already applied on your behalf, then your employer’s claim will be processed and not yours. This also works the other way round – in other words, whoever applies first will potentially be approved, and the second application will not be approved.

This principle also applies if you work for more than one employer and you contribute to the UIF through both employers, and both employers apply for a Ters benefit for you. The employer that applies first will be approved and the benefit granted, and the second employer’s application will not be granted.  

It is common for temporary workers, seasonal workers, and domestic workers to have multiple employers.

Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, has made much of “dishonest” employers not on-paying the Ters benefit to employees. Under the new process, even though the employer applies for the Ters benefit, the UIF intends to pay the Ters directly to the employees. 

Q: I earn R25,000, which is more than the R17,712 salary on which the maximum UIF benefit is based. If my pay has been cut by 30%, is it true I can claim the benefit at the daily rate of R221,28 for each day of the lockdown, but any benefit I receive, when added to what my employer is paying, cannot exceed my normal salary of R25,000?

A: The R221,28 Daily Benefit Amount (DBA) is correct. If the claim is for 1 April to 30 April (30 days), then R221,28 x 30 days = R6,638,40. This is the maximum benefit value for that month, but the principle is that the Ters benefit amount plus any top-up remuneration paid during April may not be more than the normal salary (remuneration). If it is greater, then the value of the benefit is reduced accordingly.

If the DBA x 30 days is less than a specified minimum of R3,500 (close to the National Minimum Wage), then the Ters benefit will be R3,500.

* If you have questions about the UIF Ters benefit or any other questions about your finances email us at money@sowetan.co.za

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