Government urges employers to apply for benefits for domestic and farm workers
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's employment and labour department said on Friday it was making every effort to reach domestic workers and farm labourers so that they could also benefit from the state Covid-19 relief scheme.
The scheme is part of a basket of government measures aimed at mitigating the impact of a lockdown in place since March 27 to contain the coronavirus, which has kept millions of workers away from their jobs, with many not drawing salaries.
“Society is judged by how it tries to take care of the most vulnerable in its midst," employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi said in a statement.
"This is why as government in general and the department of employment and labour in particular (we) are doing everything ... to shield the most vulnerable from the worst of the pandemic."
He said since the lockdown was announced, the department, through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) had handed out almost R12 billion (about US$651 million) in benefits to workers through employers and appealed to those of domestic and farm workers to also apply on their behalf.
"We have also enlisted the help of a private company which is helping us trace these workers through their cell phones so that they are aware of the benefit and either get the employers to claim on their behalf or reach out to the UIF themselves,” said Nxesi.
The department had 91,406 domestic workers on its database but only three percent of them had their cell numbers listed and only 28 percent had emails, he added.
The unemployment fund has so far benefitted almost 2.1 million South African workers though 167,524 employers. More than R155 million (about US$8.4 million) has been paid to 56 641 workers through bargaining councils representing 909 employers.