What support is available to small businesses during lockdown?



Here are the resources available to support SMMEs, employers, employees, and temporary employees during the lockdown period. 

The Covid19 Temporary Employee / Employer Relief Scheme - TERS

The scheme will assist with paying a portion of workers salaries and is available for up to three months. Businesses that need financial assistance can send an email requesting aid to [email protected] 

The steps, very simply, are as follows:

You will receive an automated reply confirming that your request has been received, along with a request for these documents:

  • A letter of authority, on an official company letterhead granting permission to an individual specified to lodge a claim on behalf of the company.
  • Memorandum of Understanding which signals the conclusion of the agreement between the UIF and the employer or UIF and a bargaining council.
  • A template that will require critical information from the employer.
  • Evidence as proof of the employee’s salary for the last 3 months.
  • Confirmation of bank account details in the form of the most recent certified bank statement.

All documents submitted will be subject to verification and must be sent to the UIF-dedicated mailbox: [email protected]

The SMME Debt Relief Fund

The Debt Relief Fund aims to provide relief on existing debts and repayments and assist SMMEs during the lockdown period.

For SMMEs to be eligible for assistance under the Debt Relief Fund, applicants must be able to provide proof of how COVID-19 has (or can) directly impact business operations. 

Businesses in need of sourcing raw materials and paying salaries or operational costs can also apply.

All these interventions will be structured to match the patterns of the SMMEs cash flows, as well as the extent of the impact suffered.

Small businesses must meet the following criteria to be eligible for financial aid :

  • The business must be 100% owned by South African citizens
  • At least 70% of the business’ employees must be SA nationals
  • The business must be registered with SARS and be tax compliant


Priority will be given to female-owned businesses, young business owners and those with disabilities.

Businesses are required to register on the SMME South Africa platform. Click here for more information or download the COVID 19 TERS Benefits Easy Aid guide on how to access funding during the lockdown. 

You can also apply online for assistance during the lockdown - UIF-COVID-19 TERS National Disaster Application System

Employers can call the Department of Labour Hotline at 012 337 1997, Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm for information on how they can assist their employees. 

Access more essential contact numbers 


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