Sipho wrote to City Press to say that he was recently retrenched after the telecoms company he worked for went through a restructuring process. He is 55 and was employed by the same company for 34 years.
“After being informed that the company intended to reduce staff numbers, I decided to take the severance package at the end of July 2015. However, I neither knew how long it would take for my pension claim to pay out, nor was I aware of the UIF [Unemployment Insurance Fund] payout process,” says Sipho, who, although being told he would receive his pension payout within a month, is still waiting to be paid. He is relying on his UIF payment to fill the gap.
“I did not use e-filing for UIF and went to the labour office to file a claim. However, after handing in my claim, I have still not received any payments – 12 days later,” says Sipho.
If you are looking to claim from UIF, it helps to understand the process and – most importantly – the time frames. You will only start receiving your benefits up to eight weeks after registering. This is the maximum time it should take for payments to start coming through, and you will receive payments every four weeks until your benefits are exhausted.
However, if you have put in an application and have not received any funds after eight weeks, you are advised to find all your supporting documents and return to the department of labour office where you lodged your claim.
WHO CAN CLAIM?
The Unemployment Insurance Fund was set up by government to provide interim relief to workers who are between jobs, and women on maternity leave. You cannot claim UIF under the following circumstances:
. If you were suspended from your job because you committed fraud;
. If you quit your job;
. If you refused training or advice;
. If you already qualify for a benefit from an unemployment fund under the Labour Relations Act; and
. If you already receive benefits from the Compensation Fund.
Note that the unemployment officer can request that you go for training or career counselling. If this happens and you fail to attend the training or counselling, your UIF benefits may be stopped.
What benefits do you receive from the UIF?
The UIF will pay you unemployment benefits, illness benefits, maternity benefits and death benefits. Illness benefits can be claimed if you are ill for two weeks or longer. Maternity benefits can be claimed if you are pregnant and taking maternity leave. You can take maternity leave from four weeks before the expected date of birth and you may not work for a period of six weeks after the birth.
Note that you can claim adoption benefits if you legally adopt a child younger than two years old and take time off from work to look after the child. However, only one of the adoptive parents can apply for benefits.
The wife/husband or minor child of someone who has died can claim death benefits if the deceased contributed to the fund.
How to lodge a claim
You can lodge a UIF claim if your employer goes bankrupt, your contract ends, or you are fired or retrenched. You have to lodge within six months of the date you stopped working.
The first step is going to a department of labour office to sign an unemployment register. You are then required to return every four weeks to sign the register again and show that you still need unemployment benefits. The relevant forms are available directly from the department’s offices, or you can download them from labour.gov.za.
You have to go to a department of labour office in person to lodge your UIF claim and you will need the following documents:
. Your green barcoded ID book or passport;
. Proof of your registration as someone who is seeking work (signing the unemployment register at the department of labour’s office);
. A service certificate from your employer;
. A copy of your last six payslips;
. A form filled in with your banking details (form UI-2.8); and
. A form that shows that you are no longer employed (form UI-19).
How much can you claim?
If you have been contributing to UIF for four years or more, you can claim for up to 238 days, or eight months. If you have been contributing for a shorter period, you can claim one day for every six days that you worked while you were contributing to the fund. If you take maternity leave, you can only claim up to 121 days.
The fund pays a percentage of the wage/salary that you earned while you were contributing to it. The highest amount that can be paid is 58% of what you earned per day.
The amount that you will be paid is determined differently, depending on the amount of your monthly salary.
For example, if you earn less than R12 478 a month, you will receive about 36% to 56% of your average monthly salary from the past four years. The higher your salary, the lower the percentage that you will get back. If you earn more than R12 478 a month, you will receive a fixed monthly benefit of between R4 250 and R4 550.
Have you ever had a major problem when claiming UIF?
SMS us on 35697 using the keyword UIF and tell us about your experience. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50