The Department of Employment and Labour continues to make a difference to the lives of workers with payments through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), as well as working on processing COVID-19 claims that have come in through the Compensation Fund (CF).
For May payments alone, the UIF has disbursed close to R6-billion (R5 893 080 491.35) for 1 440 757 individuals to help them cope with the worst effects of the lockdown while the CF has logged 448 claims that have been received directly as well as via the Rand Mutual and Federated Employers.
The relief payments are part of the basket of services government has laid out to different sectors as a means to ride the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen businesses close and workers going without income. The UIF has plugged this hole for most workers who are able to take care of their families with this income replacement.
Cumulatively since April 16, the UIF has paid over R23-billion (R23 799 903 283.03) to 3 663 932 workers represented by 322 422 employers. Of significance is the continued direct payment of workers even though the claims were lodged by their employers.
However, the payment to domestic workers was far below the expectation and this is one of the areas that worry UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping.
“Between April 16 and 17 June, we paid a total of 35 374 domestic workers a collective amount of R128 904 782. Even taking into account that live-in domestic workers are back at work already, it seems that we have not done enough to give proper sustenance to this vulnerable group.
“We have done something but it may not be good enough. We have been, and continue to encourage employers to lodge claims on behalf of their workers, particularly workers in vulnerable sectors like domestic workers and farming to apply for May relief payments. And again, based on the figures, it seems not enough people have taken the opportunity to apply,” said the Commissioner.
A total of 154 310 workers have been paid relief benefits directly to their bank accounts to the tune of R679-million since April to date, which means that the workers get the relief payment much quicker.
The biggest worry now is the number of jobs that are being shed or going to be by different companies and how this will put a strain to the liquidity of the Fund into the future.
“With the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa this week on advanced level 3 of the lockdown, a lot more people will be going back to work in various sectors. This will partly relieve the Fund. This is a good time for employers to do right and declare and contribute for workers to the UIF. If ever UIF demonstrated how critical it is to the lives of workers, the contribution that it has made during the lockdown should be evidence enough. We hope those companies that have not declared their workers will do right and declare all workers,” he said.
The commissioner added that he has instructed the Fund to ensure that going forward, it will find the best ways to remain liquid while ensuring that they make the difference to the workers who need them the most at the moment.
Maruping pointed out 750 614 employees who were not found on the UI’s Siyaya system lost a collective R3.3-billion in payments while the lack of proper banking details means that 988 workers have lost R448 378.20 in payments.
The Fund also continues to pay ordinary benefits to the unemployed, new mothers, dependants and for illness and adoption with over R3-billion paid to date from March 26.
With regard to the compensation claims, the largest number has come from the Western Cape where 172 cases have been received followed by KZN (77), Eastern Cape (55), Gauteng (54), Limpopo (2) and Mpumalanga (1).
For 70% of the claims received, the Fund has accepted liability while 23% are pending adjudication and only 6.1% have been repudiated. The most affected gender are females at 82.8%.