The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) COVID-19 temporary employer/employee relief scheme (TERS) applications for the month of May 2020 will open at midnight on Tuesday (26 May).
In a statement, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said the UIF paid the first batch of TERS benefits to employers on behalf of workers on 16 April.
The number of applications increased as the lockdown, which began on 27 March, took effect throughout the country, the Minister added.
R15 billion paid
Despite the increased “capacity and financial burden” on the UIF, the Fund has paid out more than R15 billion to beneficiaries.
Nxesi said, “Despite several challenges the UIF continues to experience in executing its mandate to the public, I believe it has risen to the task under extremely difficult circumstances.”
According to Nxesi, 3 million workers have benefitted from the payments so far. He nevertheless said his department needs to guarantee the sustainability of funds beyond June 2020.
Up to eight million workers are expected to return to work from 1 June when South Africa moves to alert level 3 following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Sunday.
Retrenchments ‘must be last resort’
However, Nxesi warned that retrenchments could still rise because of the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
He said, “We encourage employers to consult broadly when it comes to major decisions with an impact on job security such as intentions to lay-off workers.
“Retrenchments must be the last resort out of all the available remedies to the challenges we face. We also expect employers to fully cooperate with labour inspectors who continue to enforce workplace regulations to protect the welfare of workers.”
The Minister will lead his department’s delegation to a meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) on Thursday to discuss the prospect of retrenchments.
NEDLAC’s social partners will also discuss the UIF’s “technical and financial capacity to continue to pay out TERS benefits in the long run.”
Applications for UIF TERS May 2020 can be made on the department’s website here.