On 17 November 2020, the UIF announced that it will open and begin processing the latest and last round of COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme ("TERS") benefit applications from Monday, 23 November 2020. Applications for the extended 16 September 2020 to 15 October 2020 period must be made via the online portal and will close on 31 December 2020.
The categories of employees who qualify for the TERS for the extended period remain the same as under the most recent TERS Directive. As a reminder, qualifying employees are those whose employers are:
- not permitted to commence operations, either partially or in full, in terms of the Disaster Management Regulations;
- unable to make alternative arrangements for vulnerable employees to work from home or to take other measures as contemplated in clause 20.3 of the Occupational Health and Safety Directive; or
- unable to make use of employees' services, either fully or partially, because of operational requirements based on the economic, technological, structural or similar needs of the employer which result from compliance with the Disaster Management Regulations; in particular, the need to limit the number of employees at the workplace through rostering, staggering of working hours, short time, or the introduction of shift systems.
If the employer does fall into any of the above categories, it must apply in respect of affected employees who have:
- lost income; or
- were required or forced to take annual leave due to the pandemic.
An official amendment to the latest TERS Directive is anticipated to be gazetted in due course, incorporating the extended time period.
Yesterday's statement by the UIF was made pursuant to President Cyril Ramaphosa's nationwide announcement on 11 November 2020 that the COVID-19 UIF TERS benefit scheme would be extended by another month, to 15 October 2020, following the further and recent extension of the national state of disaster.
The COVID-19 UIF TERS scheme has already paid out over ZAR52-billion since March 2020 according to the statement.
While the Alert Level 1 Regulations have been relaxed and the nation is not yet moving back into Alert Level 2, it remains a possibility of which employers should remain cognisant.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.