Temporary Employee / Employer Relief TERS is the name of the game in the country at the moment. Initially bandied around as one of the safeguards intended to ensure that South Africans and companies would be able to survive what was to become level 5 of lockdown, has become one of the largest frustrations for employees and employers. Shutting the country down for three weeks to allow the country to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of the Coronavirus pandemic made a lot of sense, especially when the government was so quick to the table many solutions, which would help citizens to financially survive the national disaster. What was intended as a solution soon became perceived as a national disaster all of its own?

Who can Claim?

Anyone who has claimed from UIF for retrenchment, end of contract, maternity leave, illness and incapacity amongst other reasons, whether it has been physically by standing in the queues, or electronically via the online portal, will know full well how frustrating the system was. The UIF system has been broken since inception in that the records and controls have not been enforced in a standardized way which ensures that the information which is required, to enable the claiming of the unemployment fund by those who need it the most and who have dutifully contributing to the fund for years of their employed lives. The result of which was that the Unemployment fund became so fat and overloaded with funds due to it inaccessibility that funds intended for unemployment relief were utilized elsewhere simply because the unemployed and incapacitated have been unable to access what was owing to them.

When UIF deployed the online claiming system some three years ago, the potential for correcting all of it previous bad habits, was there for the taking yet somehow it never translated into a working solution. The portal not only flawed, it lacked the basic information which UIF must have had in their possession, even if it was only half of the picture. Employers can’t go without some of the accountability for the lack of information as records were not properly kept up to date and not transferred accurately to the Department of Labour however regulations for the processing of employees with UIF should have been corrected and communicated with the same intensity with which SARS regulates and therefore was successfully able to provide South African’s with a working system. Simple details simply were not loaded. As an employer who does not utilize an automated payroll, which is the case with thousands of medium, small, micro and domestic employers, you would have hoped to be able to log into the UIF portal and access your employees records. You would have been mistaken. Testing of the portal by those in the know, could not have possibly been done otherwise the system would not have been so desperately unintuitive.

TERS was designed and deployed within a miraculously short period of time and allowed employers, who loaded their employee’s claims, to hope for the proffered financial assistance required to help us all to survive the three, then five, week national lockdown. Someone who has worked with the system would have had to seriously sing their praises of TERS and they watched the system develop from day to day in ways which made sense, worked well, and which was easy to use. The system has not been without its faults as the country has come to be informed that the system was infiltrated from what appeared to be both human faults as well as criminal intent. What a disgrace that at times like these, there are those who will literally take the food out of the mouths of the starving.

Easy to Navigate TERS?

No, TERS has not been the best-executed system ever. But it has served as a source of hope for thousands upon thousands of people who without warning, had the financial carpet pulled out from underneath them. When TERS works, it works well and the Department of Employment and Labour has shown the ability to act and react as and when required. Where previously telephone calls would take an hour to be answered, calls were being picked up. Not only have they been picked up but they have been picked up by a lot of UIF employees who know what they are doing, who understand the system, and who are as committed to ensuring payments are made, as the employers are. Emails are being answered, senior staff have been involved and remain accessible to all. The system is not without its problems and complex repercussions will certainly result from payments that have been made in error, be it as the result of the UIF or the Employers themselves. However, for the first time, it is clear that the UIF money is, on the whole, going to where it is needed the most, and the Department of Labour and its staff are bending over backward to make sure they do the best they can to make sure it happens.

If you were one who believed that everything happens for a reason, one might be inclined to conclude that all of the funds which were previously stashed as a result of a non-functioning system, were waiting for the time when the country needed it the most. Yes, no payments have been made over the last 2 weeks. Yes, there are a lot of claims from April and May still outstanding. Yes, we wait in anticipation of June’s claims to be processed swiftly and correctly but for the first time, it is clear that YES, UIF does actually do what it is intended to do, in the forms of TERS. Find out more by here https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19/