The directive allowing for the extended Covid-19 relief scheme has finally been signed and applications are expected to open next week, allowing workers to receive much-needed money.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), which funds the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief scheme (Ters), said employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi signed the directive earlier this week and applications would open on Monday.
The Ters was initially envisaged to cover April, May and June and was established as a key part of the government’s R500bn economic and social relief package to help those affected by the lockdown.
It was announced in July that the Ters benefit would be extended for an extra six weeks until August 15.
However, the opening of applications was delayed because a government directive had not been signed and published.
A total of R40bn has been set aside for Ters, and as of Tuesday this week, according to progress report seen by Business Day, a little more than R39.7bn had been paid out to just over nine-million workers.
In total the UIF had received about 10-million applications for the relief fund.
The UIF has been adamant there is no backlog in paying the benefits, despite workers and employers left waiting for payments. By mid-July, some workers and employers were still waiting for payments from April and May.
The progress report showed that some applications from April, May and June were only being paid in August.
The UIF said the application process for the six-week extension would remain the same. According to the new directive, for the extension, an employer and employee may claim Ters benefits from July 1 to August 15.
The fund said the new direction and the extension had been subject to discussions with social partners at Nedlac and it was agreed that the cut-off date for the application window for April and May would be September 15. All new applications for these periods must be uploaded on, or before, that date to qualify for processing and payment.
UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping said existing claims would remain open for corrections and finalisation beyond this date.
He said in keeping with strict governance principles, the UIF would still subject payments to bank verification before releasing the funds into the applicant’s accounts.
“The immediate past has taught us that even under the pandemic, criminals are at large and looking to benefit through their nefarious means. We have an obligation to do everything in our power to ensure that that funds are not paid into the incorrect accounts,” Maruping said.