The Department of Employment and Labour has placed the onus on employers to claim from the newly created COVID-19 UIF relief scheme, for employees that they cannot afford to pay their full salaries.
On Friday, 27 March 2020, the Department of Employment and Labour announced the creation of the COVID-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (COVID-19 TERS). The scheme was created following meetings between the Department of Employment and Labour, spearheaded by Minister Thulas Nxesi, and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) executives and Board.
The scheme aims to mitigate the deficit that employers might experience because of the 21-day national lockdown, which could result in them being unable to pay employee salaries. The scheme calls for employers, and not employees, to claim for the scheme, citing the potential backlog as the reason for the decision. During the lockdown, only electronic applications will be considered.
The creation of the fund has not been without its hiccups. Initially, some employers proposed the deduction of the 21 days from their employees’ annual leave days, which is unlawful and should be reported. Moreover, applying for COVID-19 TERS implies that the company will be subjected to an audit, which has resulted in resistance from some employers. Employees that might experience this are encouraged to reach out to the UIF call centre, or alternatively, visit the website.