South African workers are missing out on over a billion rand in Covid-19 relief funds

The Department of Employment and Labour says it continues to ease the burden of the financial strain attached to the current lockdown in South Africa through relief benefits to qualifying workers.

The department said it has paid 862,550 workers more than R3 billion since April 16, 2020, through the Covid-19 Temporary Employee Relief Scheme.

“We know that these payments made to employees through 59,161 employers who have claimed on their behalf have not only positively affected more than the 862,550 workers, but also provided much needed relief to their families and extended families,” it said.

These payments are over and above the ordinary benefit payments that the fund has been paying to qualifying beneficiaries.

In this period, the fund has paid:

  • Unemployment benefits to 43,878 claimants totalling more than R717 million;
  • A sum of just over R134 million to 8,227 mothers on maternity leave;
  • Benefits to 1,645 dependants which amounts to nearly R27 million; and
  • Illness and adoption benefits for 1,098 individuals totalling nearly R18 million.

Despite these payouts, the department said that many additional employers should be making claims.

“We have at least 1.8 million employers on our database with the payroll to over 8 million workers. So far 59,168 employers have accessed the funds.

“We are still holding in abeyance just over a billion rand in funds that workers could potentially be paid depending on the information that still needs to be furnished to the fund,” said minister Thulas Nxesi.

“It is important that employers log in online and access our easy to follow claiming procedures at We particularly appeal to the employers of domestic workers to ensure that they are not left behind and inconvenienced as a result of the lockdown.”

Any company that was a contributor to the UIF before March 15 should apply as those that registered after that date do not qualify.

“The UIF exists as a social safety net and it would be sad if workers lost out on potential relief benefits that could possibly make their lives a little better during this difficult period,” Nxesi said.

If the application is complete, accurate and valid, at best the department will process the payment within 24 hours and at worst within 48 hours, the minister said.

All employees will be checked against UIF systems and if the employee is not registered, the application will be returned back requesting additional information from the employer.

The department said in a separate statement that hundreds of thousands of employees who could potentially qualify for Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme benefits may not receive their due because companies have either not applied on their behalf, or have not corrected the information to enable the UIF to pay timeously.

The UIF said that as many as 220,768 employees could be entitled to benefits.

“When we receive applications from employers, we verify the information to ensure that the employees they are claiming for appear in our system. When we identify inconsistencies, we send the enquiry to the employer for verification,” said the UIF Commissioner, Teboho Maruping.

The fund has also emphasised that all businesses with employees, from spaza shops to hair salons who are registered with UIF can apply for this relief.

Even employers of domestic workers should also apply for the relief as domestic workers are included in the UIF.

The money is being paid either through employers, bargaining councils, employer associations or directly to employees.

Read: New research shows how the lockdown has hit South Africans financially

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South African workers are missing out on over a billion rand in Covid-19 relief funds