Companies accused of withholding UIF payments to employees

Labour minister Thulas Nxesi.
Labour minister Thulas Nxesi.
Image: Esa Alexander

Unibisco is the first company to be exposed as having allegedly failed to disburse money claimed from the Unemployment Insurance Fund Covid-19 relief fund to its employees.​

Labour minister Thulas Nxesi named and shamed the biscuit manufacturer after hundreds of workers this week were up in arms after they were not paid.

“We have companies that are misrepresenting us before their workers and the public. For instance, we were accused by a company in the Eastern Cape, Unibisco, when their workers demanded their money that we have not paid them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our records indicate that this company was paid a total of R539,595 on April 24 to pass on to their workers," said Nxesi said.

However, an unnamed company representative told SABC News on Thursday the money received from the UIF was inadequate.

"Each company applies for the UIF to compensate people who are not going to be back at work, which has been done by our company since April and even during the period when we were closed down. When the UIF money came back it didn't come back complete, not for everyone," he said.

Nxesi said the UIF system has been revamped for employees to check the status of claims submitted by their employers.

"Employees can access their employers’ records by entering their ID number. They will be able to see how much has been paid to the company and the specific amount paid to them as an employee."

Nxesi described employers who are withholding the UIF Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme "as callous and insensitive to the needs of workers, especially when many people are facing financial distress due to the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown".

"The UIF has been inundated with calls from workers complaining that employers have not paid them their benefits despite having received funds from the UIF.

“I want to categorically state that this is inhumane and employers who are withholding funds meant for workers must immediately release payments. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that has brought economies of countries to their knees. Workers are the worst affected by this inevitable eventuality. The worst thing you can do as an employer is to withhold funds meant for workers," said Nxesi.

The full list of all companies paid by the UIF is also available on https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19/ or people can call UIF on the toll-free number 0800 030 007.

The call for companies to pass on the benefits to workers comes as the UIF has disbursed R 10.7bn in relief benefits.

"This amount is for the benefit of 1,924,060 employees through 156,831 employers."

Other payments have been effected through the bargaining councils for 56,641 employees represented by 909 employers. They have been paid a total of R155m.

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