As hospitality businesses wait patiently for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (Ters) system errors and bottlenecks to be resolved, many question whether they survive while they wait.
Rosemary Anderson, the national chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa), said: “We acknowledge that UIF Ters has paid out billions to businesses and their staff in the past year.
“We are also grateful that the government has designated our sector as one that qualifies for UIF Ters. However, the incredible difficulty that many in the hospitality sector are experiencing to access this only form of financial relief open to us has left us desperate.”
She said Ters was the only lifeline for most tourism businesses.
She said most businesses were “hanging on a thread”.
“Fedhasa members highlight daily how their experience of the process and system is fraught with inconsistencies and issues. From the call centre number (0800 030 007) being disconnected, or when it was working manned by call centre agents who were not trained to deal with enquiries, to Sars errors, which appear to be the cause of thousands of claims not being processed.
“Why should employees and employers who have faithfully contributed to UIF for years now not be able to access their contributions, now more so when they are desperately needed than in the history of UIF? We must not lose sight that these funds comprise of the employee and employer’s contributions. It is their money.
“It is very wrong for our tourism and hospitality industry not to be able to access their contributions, purely because the call centre number does not work, there are administrative inadequacies and system verification errors between Sars and uFiling,” said Anderson.
She said communication from the UIF has been exceptionally disappointing, turnaround times have been unacceptably long, and the process has been extremely complicated.
“Our industry has held webinars and offered other forms of advice to try to assist tourism and hospitality businesses to access UIF Ters funds, but what we are told by UIF Ters appears to work only in theory but not in practice. It is very upsetting to us that we are not able to help our industry, but currently the system our members are trying to access is simply dysfunctional.
“We are not insensitive to the fact that the UIF must be drowning in applications, appeals and communication from the various sectors affected. We simply ask the UIF to work with us so that we can help to convey better processes to our industry and find solutions to those bottlenecks if we are contributing to them. It will benefit everyone. We are all in the same boat and need to work together,” Anderson said.