President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the extension of Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) temporary employer/employee relief scheme (TERS) by one more month.
Ramaphosa made the announcement during his address to the nation on Wednesday evening (11 November).
Discussions to continue
He said, “Following extensive discussions with our social partners, the UIF will extend the COVID-19 UIF TERS benefit scheme by another month, to 15 October, 2020.
“Discussions continue with our social partners on support for businesses in distress going forward, mindful of the need to ensure that the UIF has sufficient funds to meet the anticipated rise in unemployment claims.”
The announcement follows days of uncertainty regarding the benefits, which the government introduced in March to help businesses pay workers during the lockdown.
UIF had planned to end the benefits on 15 September, 2020. Last week, Business for South Africa (B4SA) and COSATU called for a three-month extension until December 2020.
“The bottom line is that the funds are employee and employer contributions, and there are liquid funds available to fund the benefit until the end of 2020,” B4SA said.
Relief measures ‘will have to end’
However, Ramaphosa said the government’s COVID-19 relief measures were necessary to protect the vulnerable, “but they will have to come to an end.”
He added that UIF TERS has already paid out almost R53 billion to more than 4.7 million workers.
In an interview with SABC News last week, Acting UIF Commissioner Marsha Bronkhorst also said TERS was initially meant for three months but had been paid for seven months.
“Our projections are that by the time we have honoured all the claims that we have on our system up to the 30th of October, we would have paid R61 billion.
“Our original commitment was R40 billion, so we have already exceeded the original commitment by nearly R21 billion,” she added.