UIF to start paying Covid-19 TERS benefits directly to workers
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Workers will now be paid their Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefits in their bank accounts, the department of labour said, on Friday. Employers would still be expected to claim on their behalf.
In the past, the benefit was paid into the employer's bank accounts.
Acting UIF Commissioner Mzie Yawa said: “We have learned the lesson from the previous phases that some unscrupulous employers did not advance the funds to their employees and it is for that reason that we have opted for this mode of payment. As a result of the non-payment of workers, the UIF and the entire department were inundated with a lot of complaints as workers could see in the system that funds had been released but had not been paid by their employers who kept the Covid TERS funds for themselves,”
The department said when Minister Thulasi Nxesi signed the Direction which will make it possible for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to implement a third extension of the Covid 19 TERS benefit, he added the condition. The department said the UIF would open the system for applications from July 19, 2021, and commence payments from July 26, 2021.
According to the department, the third phase will bring relief for the following categories of workers:
· Workers who have not been able to work from 16 March 2021, due to Level 1, 2 and 3 restrictions preventing gatherings of a certain number of people– such as in the entertainment industry
· Workers who were and or are still impacted upon by the Level 4 restrictions which commenced on June28, 2021
· Workers who have not been able to work because they are over 60 or have co-morbidities and have not been able to work in the period as well as those who have had to isolate or go into quarantine.
The period the direction covers end on 25 July 2021.
"The direction follows the announcement by Minister Nxesi three weeks ago that the department intended extending benefits to sectors affected by Adjusted Alert Level 4 restrictions," the department said.
The department said this point was further emphasised when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced to the nation on July 11, 2021, that the UIF had embarked on negotiations with NEDLAC social partners to address the difficulties faced by employees who lost income under level 4 restrictions.
"After intense deliberations with social partners at Nedlac, the UIF agreed to open the window for phase 3 of Covid TERS to cover the period between 16 March 2021 to 25 July 2021," it said.
The department said the application process and the information or documents required are the same as with the previous extensions, except in respect of the processing of payments directly into the employees’ accounts.
Yawa said, “Employers must provide valid and accurate details of their employees including identity document numbers and valid bank accounts."
According to the department, qualifying sectors for phase 3 of the Covid TERS are identified in Annexure A of the Direction which includes venues hosting auctions, professional sports, where social events are held, and venues hosting concerts and live performance.
"Annexure B contains all sectors affected by Level 4 lockdown restrictions including restaurants, the liquor industry, hospitality and tourism as well as any industries and business establishments that form part of these value chains," the department said.