President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the extension of the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s temporary employer/employee relief scheme (UIF TERS) for some sectors until 15 March 2021.
Delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on Thursday, Ramaphosa said the extension follows consultations with social partners at NEDLAC.
UIF TERS extension for sectors unable to operate
“We have also decided to extend the COVID-19 TERS benefit until 15 March 2021 only for those sectors that have not been able to open and operate,” the President said.
“The conditions of this extension and the sectors to be included will be announced after consultations with social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council.”
In a subsequent update on Friday, UIF said it will make an announcement once the social partners discuss and finalise the “granular details.”
The government introduced UIF TERS in March last year to help cushion businesses and workers from lockdown restrictions taken to combat COVID-19.
It was initially meant for three months but was extended twice it until October 2020. Several organisations, including Business for South Africa (B4SA) and labour federation COSATU, lobbied for a further extension.
In his SONA, Ramaphosa said UIF TERS has paid more than R57 billion in wage support to over 4.5 million workers so far.
DA, tourism industry welcome extension
The DA, which had lobbied for the extension for businesses in areas designated as hotspots especially in the Western Cape, welcomed Ramaphosa’s announcement.
David Maynier, Western Cape’s Finance and Economic Opportunities Minister, tweeted, “Great news that the Covid-19 UIF TERS fund will be extended, which is something we’ve long been campaigning for!
“Businesses have been hard-hit, especially those in the tourism and hospitality sector and so this will be a welcome lifeline for them.”
Tourism Business Council of South Africa CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, also said the Council will continue engaging with NEDLAC social partners.
“We have had continuous engagements with our NEDLAC partners and have been raising awareness through various media platforms of how the tourism industry has been restricted in its operations – from beach bans to parks, dams and rivers and bans,” he told Tourism Update.