The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) COVID-19 temporary employer/employee relief scheme (TERS) applications for May have been delayed by a “freak break of fibre connectivity,” the UIF said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi announced that TERS applications for May would open at midnight (26 May).
However, the UIF issued an apology on Wednesday afternoon after a fibre link between its offices and the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA) broke, which meant that the online portal could not accept applications.
UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping said, “We would like to apologise to all our stakeholders and particularly our clients for this unfortunate turn of events and the resultant delays.
“We are doing everything in our power to ensure that the problem is resolved today [27 May] so that we can start processing May applications immediately. The fault of connectivity in Pretoria is due to a damaged fibre cable that links the UIF to the SITA’s data centre.”
The UIF pledged to “do all it can to try and catch up on the time lost” once the link has been restored. It will make an announcement in that regard.
The Fund said its ICT system development team was on standby to ensure the system goes live immediately the link is re-established.
Maruping added, “We have received an avalanche of complaints because of this and we understand how this could be frustrating to our clients and stakeholders.
“I would like to assure each and every one of those who have been negatively affected that this was beyond our hands, but will try to make up. It should be noted that in the last two months, we have had peak traffic as a result of our lockdown relief benefits.
“In general we have managed to keep our heads above water under those circumstances and there is no reason why we will not push ourselves to do our utmost to catch up.”
In his statement on Tuesday, Nxesi said the UIF had paid out more than R15 billion to three million beneficiaries so far.
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.
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.”