Employment and labour minister Thuals Nxesi says that his department is locked in discussions to find funding for workers who have been impacted by South Africa’s move to an adjusted level 4 lockdown.
In a media briefing on Tuesday (29 June), Nxesi said that to date the country’s Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has already distributed R60 billion to over 5 million laid-off workers supporting them, their families and businesses and communities across the country.
“Already, there have been calls for the Department, through the UIF to consider re-opening the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) for the industries worst affected by the lockdown.
“As we have always indicated, UIF has been there when the country needed it the most. All of this was done to support the country and ensure that the lockdown does not lead to mass hunger as workers were denied the chance of making a living.
“Equally, we have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the financial viability of the UIF in order to meet payment obligations,” the minister said.
Nxesi said the UIF management has been locked in discussions with their actuaries to find surplus monies to address the new conditions.
“From the side of the UIF, we believe we will be able to afford to support laid-off workers in sectors which have been closed by the government, in particular the alcohol industry over the 14-day lockdown,” he said.
The TERS was originally introduced to support employees whose services would not be used during lockdown because of the disaster regulations that designated only certain industry sectors and workers as essential.
However, the scheme morphed into a form of additional income support for many workers during the prolonged lockdown period.