The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has paid out close to R6 billion in May coronavirus (Covid-19) relief payments, while claims for compensation are growing steadily, according to the employment and labour department.
The department continued to make a difference to the lives of workers with payments through the UIF as well as working on processing Covid-19 claims that had come in through the Compensation Fund (CF), the department said in a statement.
“For May payments alone, the UIF has disbursed close to R6 billion (R5,893,080,491) for 1,440,757 individuals to help them cope with the worst effects of the lockdown while the CF has logged 448 claims that have been received directly as well as via Rand Mutual [Assurance] and Federated Employers [Mutual].”
The relief payments were part of the basket of services government had offered to different sectors as a means to ride out the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic which had seen businesses close and workers going without an income. The UIF had “plugged this hole” for most workers who were able to take care of their families with this income replacement, the department said.
Cumulatively, since April 16, the UIF had paid R23,799,903,283 to 3,663,932 workers represented by 322,422 employers. Of significance was the continued direct payment of workers even though the claims were lodged by their employers.
However, payments to domestic workers were far below expectations and this was concerning, UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping said in the statement.
“Between April 16 and 17 June, we paid a total of 35,374 domestic workers a collective amount of R128,904,782. Even taking into account that live-in domestic workers are back at work already, it seems that we have not done enough to give proper sustenance to this vulnerable group.
“We have done something, but it may not be good enough. We have been, and continue to encourage employers to lodge claims on behalf of their workers, particularly workers in vulnerable sectors, like domestic workers and farming, to apply for May relief payments. And again, based on the figures, it seems not enough people have taken the opportunity to apply,” Maruping said.
A total of 154,310 workers had been paid relief benefits directly to their bank accounts to the tune of R679 million since April to date, which meant that the workers got the relief payment much quicker.
The biggest worry now was the number of jobs lost or going to be lost and how this would put a strain to the liquidity of the fund in future. “With the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa this week on advanced level 3 of the lockdown, a lot more people will be going back to work in various sectors. This will partly relieve the fund. This is a good time for employers to do right and declare and contribute for workers to the UIF.
“If ever UIF demonstrated how critical it is to the lives of workers, the contribution that it has made during the lockdown should be evidence enough. We hope those companies that have not declared their workers will do right and declare all workers,” he said.
Maruping said 750,614 employees who were not found on the UIF’s Siyaya system lost a collective R3.3 billion in payments while the lack of proper banking details meant that 988 workers had lost R448,378 in payments.
The fund also continued to pay ordinary benefits to the unemployed, new mothers, dependents, and for illness and adoption, with over R3 billion paid to date from March 26.
With regard to the compensation claims, the largest number had come from the Western Cape where 172 cases had been received, followed by KwaZulu-Natal (77), the Eastern Cape (55), Gauteng (54), Limpopo (2), and Mpumalanga (1).
The fund had accepted liability for 70 percent of claims received, while 23 percent were pending adjudication, and only 6.1 percent had been rejected. Women were most affected at 82.8 percent, Maruping said.