The Department of Employment and Labour has revealed that more than 1.6 million Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) claims were lodged between 1 April 2023 and 15 September 2023. This signifies the scale of individuals seeking support in times of unemployment or economic hardship.
Since 1 April 2023, a total of 1 646 966 applications have been lodged under the UI Act.
The UIF provides temporary financial assistance to people who have lost income due to several unique circumstances. Individuals can access this financial assistance if they meet the eligibility criteria and complete the claims process.
UIF contributors can claim benefits for several different circumstances. These circumstances include loss of income due to unemployment, illness leave, parental leave, adoption leave, reduced work time and maternity leave. The UIF also pays benefits to dependents of deceased UIF contributors.
Covid-19 TERS Benefits
It was also revealed that 138 337 applications were submitted for the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) during the same period.
TERS was introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic to assist both employers and employees adversely affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
The UIF began auditing companies who applied for and received TERS benefits due to instances of fraudulent TERS relief claims. Billions of rands have been voluntarily returned to the UIF. The insurance fund said employers who voluntarily returned the money to the UIF saw media reports of prosecutions of employers fraudulently benefiting from the TERS fund.
It has been revealed that 10 644 have been assigned to audit firms. Of these, 4,384 have already undergone the auditing process, providing much-needed clarity on their validity. However, there are still 6,260 COVID-19 TERS claims awaiting auditing.
Backlog Of TERS Relief Scheme Claims
The Labour Department further revealed that a total of 161 claims have been processed since that time. Unfortunately, these claims remain unpaid due to specific issues that require resolution.
They explained that claims were initially processed and subsequently declined due to various validation errors. Employers were notified of these errors, and they were requested to rectify the issues. Q
This measure was taken to ensure that the system could re-evaluate the applications, with the ultimate goal of approving and disbursing employee benefits. Importantly, it is emphasised that all applications received during different iterations are currently undergoing re-processing by the UIF.
Why TERS Claims Were Declined
The Labour Department received that 22 claims were not paid due to invalid ID numbers while 30 claims were not paid due to unverified foreign nationals. 45 claims were not paid because employees were not declared.