UIF Covid-19 Ters benefit: Extend the deadline to 15 May

Please find an attached soundbite by Dr Michael Cardo MP, DA Shadow Minister for Employment and Labour

The DA is calling on the government to extend the deadline by which employers must apply for the Unemployment Insurance Fund [UIF]’s Covid-19 Ters benefit.

According to the Department of Employment and Labour’s manual, Covid-19: Frequently Asked Questions, as things stand, the deadline for applications covering the lockdown period of 27 March to 30 April, is today.

The DA believes that the deadline should be extended to 15 May. This is because the applications process has been plagued with gremlins and obstacles, making it almost impossible for a large number of employers to submit their applications on time.

Many employers have not been able to access the Covid-19 Ters website because the site has repeatedly crashed over the past two weeks. Initially, the UIF created an e-mail portal to which employers e-mailed all the required documentation: bank statements, their payroll and a signed MOA. This system was subsequently abandoned in favour of a new website. The website has persistently malfunctioned. Furthermore, many employers don’t know whether their applications were successfully migrated to the new site or whether they need to resubmit them.

To make matters worse, for various reasons not of their making, many employers have been locked out of their UIF uFiling profiles. They cannot get help because the UIF is completely overwhelmed, and more often that not phone calls and emails to the Fund go unanswered. There is no turnaround time for feedback on the various support channels, which has left employers in the dark and their unpaid employees increasingly frustrated, desperate and mutinous on the last day of the month.

In order to iron out these significant difficulties, the UIF and employers need more time. The President, through the Minister of Employment and Labour, should announce an extension of the deadline for applications to 15 May without further delay.

Additionally, over the next two weeks, SARS needs to scale up its assistance to the UIF massively in order to streamline the processing and payment of the Ters benefit. In particular, SARS should merge the data at its disposal (principally IRP5 reconciliations and EMP 201 declarations) with UIF applications so that payouts can occur more rapidly and accurately.