'Pay workers immediately', Labour minister warns companies withholding UIF benefits
Pretoria - Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi on Friday warned employers who have received Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Covid-19 temporary employer/employee relief scheme benefits from government but are not passing on the money to workers.
“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,” Nxesi said.
“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.”
Nxesi described this practice as “callous and insensitive” to the needs of workers, especially when many people are facing financial distress due to the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus in South Africa.
The Department of Employment and Labour said the UIF has been inundated with calls from workers complaining that employers have not paid them their benefits despite having received funds on behalf of the employees.
Nxesi said the UIF system has been upgraded to allow employees to check the status of claims submitted by their employers. Employees can access their employers’ records by entering their ID number.
The employees will be able to see how much has been paid to the company and the specific amount paid to them as an employee.
“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 24 April to pass on to their workers,” Nxesi said.
The call for companies to pass on the benefits to workers comes as the UIF has disbursed almost R11-billion in relief benefits. This amount is meant 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 more than R155 million.
The full list of companies that have been paid by the UIF is available on www.uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19. The UIF can also be contacted on toll-free number 0800 030 007.African News Agency