UIF: A work in progress

Category: BCEA
Date: 22 July 2020

Temporary Employee / Employer Relief is the name of the game in the country at the moment. Initially bandied around as one of the safeguards intended to ensure that South Africans and companies would be able to survive what was to become level 5 of lockdown, has become one of the largest frustrations for employees and employers. Shutting the country down for three weeks to allow the country to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of the Corona virus pandemic made a lot of sense, especially when the government was so quick to the table many solutions, which would help citizens to financially survive the national disaster. What was intended as a solution soon became perceived as a national disaster all of its own.

TERS was designed and deployed within a miraculously short period of time and allowed employers, who loaded their employee’s claims, to hope for the proffered financial assistance required to help us all to survive the three, then five, week national lockdown. Someone who has worked with the system would have had to seriously sing their praises of TERS and they watched the system develop from day to day in ways which made sense, worked well and which was easy to use. The system has not been without its faults as the country has come to be informed that the system was infiltrated from what appeared to be both human fault as well as criminal intent. No, TERS has not been the best executed system ever. But it has served as a source of hope for thousands upon thousands of people who without warning, had the financial carpet pulled out from underneath them. When TERS works, it works well and the Department of Employment and Labour has shown the ability to act and react as and when required. Where previously telephone calls would take an hour to be answered, calls were being picked up. Not only have they been picked up but they have been picked up by a lot of UIF employees who know what they are doing, who understand the system and who are as committed to ensuring payments are made, as the employers are. Emails are being answered, senior staff have been involved and remain accessible to all. The system is not with out its problems and complex repercussions will certainly result from payments which have been made in error, be it as the result of the UIF or the Employers themselves. However for the first time it is clear that the UIF money is on the whole, going to where it is needed the most and the Department of Labour and its staff are bending over backwards to make sure they do the best they can to make sure it happens.

Yes, there are a lot of claims from April and May still outstanding. Yes, we wait in anticipation of June’s claims to be processed swiftly and correctly but for the first time it is clear that YES, UIF does actually do what it is intended to do, in the forms of TERS.