Amid the uncertainty and stress surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic, government has put measures in place to assist its citizens in staying afloat. Amongst the most hard hit is the business sector which is increasingly unable to operate at full capacity as a result of constraints put in place to flatten the curve of the spread of the virus, and also as a result of an increasing number of employees needing to self-isolate or self-quarantine due to infection or exposure to the virus. Here is what the government is doing to help.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund will be compensating workers through its existing Illness and Reduced Work Time benefits in situations where companies need to make use of short time or temporary shutdowns, and where employees need to self-quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus or confirmed infection.
Reduced Work Time
Reduced work time benefits apply when the company shuts down for a certain period or implements Reduced or Short Time. The benefit payable under these circumstances is the difference between what the employer pays and normal UIF benefits payable should an employee lose employment.
To claim Reduced Work Time benefits, the employee needs to provide the UIF with a UI19 and UI2.7 completed by the employer, a UI2.1b completed by the employee, a UI2.8 bank form completed by the bank requested by the employee, a copy of the employee’s ID, and a letter from the employer confirming that the Reduced Work Time is due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Illness benefits apply when an employee has been quarantined for 14 days due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The employee must submit a confirmation letter from both the employer and the employee as proof that both parties agree to the 14 days ‘special leave’. This is submitted with the normal application and takes the place of a medical certificate where the employee self-quarantines without first consulting a medical practitioner. Benefits are payable by UIF based on these letters. Where the quarantine will last more than 14 days, a medical certificate from a medical practitioner must be submitted together with the Continuation Form UI13. Documents to be submitted in terms of these claims are the UI19 and UI2.7 completed by the employer, the UI2.2 which is partly completed by a doctor, a UI2.8 which is the bank form completed by the bank requested by the employee, and a copy of the employee’s ID along with letters from the employer and employee agreeing to special leave.
An employee accrues UIF credit days at 1 credit day for every 4 days worked, up to a maximum of 365 days for every four completed years. Benefits are paid as per the prescribed structure from 239 to 365 days. The rate paid by the UIF is determined by a scale of benefits, which ranges between 38 and 60% of the employee’s salary for the first 238 credit days and a flat rate of 20% from 239 to 365 days.
How to Apply
The prescribed documents can be submitted to the UIF by the employee using the following methods:
Online at: www.ufiling.co.za (Illness benefits)
Email the application to the nearest UIF processing Centre (Illness/Reduced Work Time benefits)
Fax the application to the nearest UIF processing Centre (Illness/Reduced Work Time benefits)
Application forms can be downloaded from the Department of Employment and Labour website: www.labour.gov.za
Rapid response teams have been established to assist companies with more than 50 employees to process claims. These teams will be deployed to the employer premises in each province. The officials to be contacted to arrange for such sessions are as follows:
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