Applying for UIF during Lockdown

If you lost your job, you can claim an unemployment benefit from the UIF – and if your company reduced your working hours, you can also put in a claim.

But if your company put you on unpaid leave during this time, or if you have been laid off temporarily – or if a company can only afford to pay a part of your salary – you may get  a special payout from the UIF, as part of the Covid-19 Temporary Relief scheme, also known as the special Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS).

How does the new coronavirus benefit work?

A business has to apply to the UIF to get money to pay workers. It will have to prove that it suffered a severe knock from the lockdown. If approved, the UIF will pay out money per worker for up to three months.

Unlike normal UIF benefits, which is paid to workers, the money may be distributed first to the company, which will then pay workers. (This arrangement has not been finalised, though.)

And also unlike the normal UIF benefits, you don’t have to have enough “credits” with the fund to claim the money. The normal UIF rule is that that you could get one day’s payout  for every four days’ work (up to certain maximums). But this falls away for the new coronavirus benefit. All workers at approved companies will get payments.

Businesses must have been registered with the UIF before the crisis started to qualify for the benefits.

How much will I get?

The amounts paid will be a percentage of an employee’s salary, according to a legislated sliding scale from 38% (highest earners) to 60% (lowest earners)

The maximum you will get is R6 730 a month. The sliding scale stops at R17 702: All workers earning more than this will only get the 38% maximum benefit (R6 730). The minimum amount will not be below the minimum wage (around R3 500).

It will work on the same principle as maternity benefits. If a company can still afford to pay employees a part of their salaries, the TERS money will “top up” these payments – but employees can’t earn more than 100% of their current salaries.

Currently, the TERS payment will cover the lockdown period of five weeks.