The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) says it has resumed temporary employer/employee relief scheme (TERS) payments after a 24-hour delay.
In a statement on Wednesday, UIF said the delay was “necessitated by the need to address some control deficiencies in the COVID-19 TERS online payment system.”
Suspension ‘grossly unfair’
Business For South Africa (B4SA) and Business Unity SA (BUSA) had earlier on Wednesday demanded a resumption of the payments as soon as possible. B4SA said the “unilateral halting of all payments, and the very poor communication of the situation by the UIF leadership, is grossly unfair to all employees and their employers who have legitimate claims.”
UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping said the delay was caused by an audit by the Auditor-General. He added, “The suspension of payments is not a new thing to the Fund. We do it all the time when we pick up certain anomalies that increase risk or expose us to potential fraud.
“There are instances where, at the behest of our Internal Audit and Risk Management Units, we have stopped payments to certain companies when certain deficiencies had been identified. This is part of our governance framework.
“Therefore, as the Auditor-General performs its own audit and they make certain observations, we address them on the spot, and sometimes we have to stop our activities to correct the situation as we did with the 24-hour suspension.”
The TERS system has been beset by technical glitches since it was launched several months ago. There have also been widespread complaints of late payments in addition to alleged fraudulent activities.
B4SA said it has a team that is ready to provide technical assistance to UIF on a pro bono basis, “but so far this offer has not been taken up.”
It added, “That the UIF system is incapable of remedying the relatively small number of fraudulent claims without disadvantaging the millions of legitimate claimants is an indictment on the UIF system.
“The continued delays and lack of transparency from the UIF in regard to their capacity challenges has had the unintended consequence of creating mistrust between employers and employees.”
The business group hinted that it may push for a renegotiation of the 15 September cut-off date for April and May COVID TERS UIF applications at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).
“Any future closure date will have to be renegotiated once the social partners are satisfied that employers and beneficiaries are not unfairly prejudiced by the failure of UIF systems and support infrastructure,” it said.