Reader Question: Can we claim our deceased mother’s UIF benefits?
By law all employers of domestic workers must register their employees with the Unemployment Insurance Fund if they work 24 hours or more a month.
A 27-year-old Sowetan Money reader from Gauteng wants to know if she and her two siblings, both under the age of 21, can claim their mother’s UIF benefits.
A 27-year-old Sowetan Money reader from Gauteng, who works part-time, reached out to us about her mother’s unemployment benefits. Sibongile (not her real name) wants to know if she and her two siblings, both under the age of 21, can claim their mother’s benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
Her mother, the family’s breadwinner, worked as a domestic worker for the same employer for 40 years and was contributing to UIF. Her mom’s employer also made a lump payment of R10,000 to the family as a contribution towards the funeral.
UIF Commissioner, Teboho Maruping, says by law all employers of domestic workers must register their employees with the Unemployment Insurance Fund if they work 24 hours or more a month.
He suggests the first step for Sibongile is to check if her mother was indeed registered for UIF and collect all necessary information from the previous employer.
He cautions that a spouse or life partner has the first right to claim the death benefit from the UIF within 18 months of a worker’s death. Dependent children can only claim if there is no spouse or life partner or if the spouse or life partner has not claimed within 18 months of the death.
Maruping says to qualify, you must be 18 years old or younger or be able to prove that you and your siblings were wholly financially dependent on your mother. Dependent children must apply within 14 days of the 18-month period.
To apply you need your ID, your mother’s ID, her last six pay slips, a formal statement from her former employer, birth certificates and proof of banking details.
The money is then paid directly into the account tax-free until the benefit has been used up.
Scorpion Legal, however, warns that you cannot claim UIF death benefits if you were no longer financially dependent on your mother, received benefits from the Compensation Fund or has been suspended from claiming due to fraud.
How much you, the employer, must contribute to UIF
According to Statistics South Africa, more than 300,000 (around a third of) domestic workers aren’t registered with the UIF and will therefore not be entitled to any benefits in the case of retrenchment, illness, maternity leave or death.
If you die and your staff members aren’t registered with the UIF, it will be up to the executor of your deceased estate to ensure registration takes place – often resulting in potentially costly delays in winding up the estate.Linky Sodi, fiduciary and tax specialist at Sanlam Private Wealth
Employers often don’t grasp that they’re obliged to ensure not only that minimum wage criteria are adhered to, but also that their domestic staff are registered for UIF purposes, says Linky Sodi, fiduciary and tax specialist at Sanlam Private Wealth.
She says you must register your domestic worker as soon as they start working; and if they are employed for more than 24 hours a month.
According to the Department of Labour’s labour guide, you must contribute 1% of what you pay your domestic worker to the UIF every month. Your domestic worker also contributes 1%.
Maruping explains that the contributions must be paid before the 7th of every month or in advance every three, six or 12 months.
Repercussions of no UIF
Sodi says employers of domestic workers are often unaware that if they die and their staff members aren’t registered with the UIF, it will be up to the executor of their deceased estate to ensure registration takes place – often resulting in potentially costly delays in winding up the estate.
The consequences of not registering your employees can be illustrated by the following example:
Peter employed Christina as a domestic worker. She worked for him for three days a week, which equated to a minimum of 24 hours a month for the past nine years. Peter didn’t register Christina for UIF benefits. He then passed away, and as a result, Christina’s employment was terminated.
Christina was under the impression that she would receive some form of compensation from Peter’s estate. However, Peter made no provision in his will for her. In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, an employer is not obliged to provide a domestic worker with a retirement benefit, so there was no pension or provident fund Christina could fall back on.
If Peter had registered Christina for UIF purposes before he died, she would have been able to claim benefits soon after his death. It was now up to the executor of Peter’s estate to register her and get all the paperwork done – a costly and time-consuming exercise, which not only led to delays in winding up Peter’s estate but resulted in Christina being out of pocket for a considerable length of time.
When an executor has to register a domestic worker for UIF purposes after the death of the employer, all arrear contributions will first need to be paid from the deceased estate before it can be finalised.
To prevent unnecessary delays at this stage, it’s crucial that registration takes place as soon as the worker is employed and is not left until after the death of the employer.
You can register your domestic worker for UIF by phoning 012-337-1680, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting your nearest Labour Centre.
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