UIF continues to make a difference to lives of ordinary workers in time of Covid and beyond
It has been 17 months since Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee scheme was introduced to save jobs and ease the financial burden on businesses and most importantly, their vulnerable workers who lost income during the lockdown.
Since then, the Unemployment Insurance Fund UIF has disbursed R63 billion bringing relief to about 5,4 million workers since the start of the lockdown last year to date, thus ensuring that the South African economy does not tank and that workers are not left destitute.
The figure is the biggest amount that has been paid by the government to help workers, businesses and the economy mitigate the impact of the lockdowns.
Considering the fact that the initial budget was R40 billion which has now been exceeded by R23 billion, is a remarkable feat by all standards.
While we celebrate the positive impact of Covid -19 TERS to employers and employees, many pay outs are still outstanding largely due to employers who were none-compliant prior to submitting claims for their workers. In some cases, the delays are as a result of ‘errors’ committed by employers in the process of lodging applications.
We commend 404 employers who heeded our recent call to fix errors, which resulted in the payment of R9 633 516.74 to 10181 employees. The bulk of errors relate to incorrect banking details, incorrect ID or passport numbers, no declarations found, applications for: deceased, underage, incarcerated, and government employees, and incorrect salary received during lockdown.
Dishonesty and Fraudulent acts
While the good work continued, we received with concern grievances that employers did not pay over the money to their workers. The first reports of the “follow the money project” which we instituted to address accountability on these monies, painted a picture of dishonesty and fraudulent acts by some employers.
- Employers claiming for employees who are working. In those instances, the Covid-19 TERS money was not paid over to employees – it having been claimed fraudulently and not for workers;
- Employers submitted false claims;
- Money was utilised for personal expenses such as paying for credit cards, buying luxurious cars, utilised for operating costs etc;
- The employer claimed Covid-19 TERS but still paid employees full salary – meaning there should have been no TERS claim; Covid-19 TERS funds;
We have noted, with regret, the same tendency appears present in the claims for the unrest in parts of KZN and Gauteng in July. The UIF has had to vigilantly carry out due diligence, verification etc. Out of about 500 employers that applied for about R16 000 employees, a number have already claims or in the process of claiming from insurance companies where salaries are covered, some applied for and shall get help from IDC which also covers salaries in their intervention. Yet some of these employers still apply for UIF benefit.
We have also noted that some have false SAPS case numbers and luckily our system can pick up through checks that the cases are not genuine.
“We urge all to act honestly, these are hard earned monies for vulnerable workers, not ‘get rich quick schemes,” said Yawa.
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Through collaboration with law enforcement agencies 18 arrests have already been effected with the latest culprits arrested by the Hawks in Gauteng last week for fleecing the Fund of R10 million in Covid TERS payments.
“Following extensive investigations and through the involvement of the follow the money project forensic audits, the suspects were arrested and charged. We are delighted that this project is bearing fruits as we have been able to recover close to R900 million to the UIF’s coffers”, said Advocate Mzie Yawa, Acting UIF Commissioner.
While the UIF celebrates this achievement we still have many outstanding claims awaiting correction of errors by employers. “We have and continue to proactively communicate to employers through letters, calls, webinars, as well as social media guiding them to fix the error codes on the Covid-19 TERS portal so we can process outstanding claims. We are also working with social partners at NEDLAC to help encourage their business members to correct the error codes.
“The Fund continuously re-process claims that are already in the system so that those that have been corrected and have passed validations can be paid when payment re-runs are conducted. We are confident that, working with NEDLAC social partners, we shall meet our target of having these at zero by the end of December 2021,” says Yawa.
The Fund will increase the frequency of re-running the system to pick up those applications that have been corrected in order to ensure that it meets the target of having a zero outstanding claims by 31 December 2021.
The lists of employers who must fix errors and those that appear to have engaged in fraudulent activities are on our website.
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