Pretoria – The Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF) Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) payments intended to provide financial assistance to employees during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic lockdown will resume next week, the employment and labour department said on Saturday.
“It is all systems go for the Unemployment Insurance Fund to resume its eagerly awaited Covid-19 TERS benefits payments – a campaign that has put hard cash in the hands of workers to shield them from the worst effects of lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The resumption is slated for Monday September 21, 2020,” the department said in a statement.
A payment run was planned for all outstanding payments for April, May, and June on Monday and Tuesday. After that, the UIF planned to run payments for the July 1 to August 15 period from Wednesday to Saturday, acting UIF commissioner Marsha Bronkhorst said in the statement.
“We are aware that many workers around the country have been placed on a back foot as a result of the need to ensure that our systems stand up to scrutiny and we close the gaps [for corruption] identified by the auditor general (AG). While the inconvenience was greatly regretted, we are pleased that we have turned things around in what we believe is quick time and our systems are ready to make a difference in the lives of the workers again,” she said.
The two-week halt in payments came as the fund was responding to “observations from the auditor general which highlighted lax controls”. The AG’s report also guided the UIF on the steps to take to ensure that those who were deserving were recipients of the cash disbursements.
As things stood, the UIF had scheduled multiple payment runs for the rest of next week to fast track the payments to beneficiaries.
In its efforts to further stress-test and mitigate the risks to its systems and process, the UIF had initiated discussions with government departments, including home affairs and correctional services, and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). This was done to assist the fund to synchronise its data to ensure that Covid-19 TERS benefits payments were made to the right and authentic beneficiaries.
While the fund would start processing payments, this applied to competent claims only. Incomplete claims or claims where information was still outstanding from employers would not be automatically processed.
“We still have claims that are yet to be processed in the system because of outstanding information. We urge employers to submit this information and we have made it easier for them to know what is still outstanding by developing the discrepancy tab in the system and they can also use FAQs on the DEL website,” Bronkhorst said.
Ensuring that competent claims were settled expeditiously was also highlighted in the AG’s report and had been part of tough discussions between the employment and labour department and the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) social partners.
In announcing the new developments, the UIF also urged employers and employees who had not yet applied for the TERS benefits to be mindful of the application closing dates for the period from April to September.
TERS benefit applications for March to end May would close on September 25, benefit applications for June would close on October 15, and applications for July to September 15 would close on October 30. The closing dates would not affect claims that had already been submitted, as they would be settled once all the outstanding information was finally submitted to the fund.
The extraordinary payments which had seen R42 billion placed in the hands of workers were part of government’s response to the pandemic and were designed to ensure that workers were not irreparably negatively affected by the lockdown and its resultant lack of economic activity, the department said.
African News Agency (ANA)