Business lobby says it has learned that UIF Covid-19 payouts will not be extended

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Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi during a media briefing.
Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi during a media briefing.
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  • Business for South Africa says it has it learned that the state's Covid Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefit will not be extended any further.
  • B4SA, which represents a majority of South African businesses partnering in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, says the announcement was made during a meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council. 
  • A Department of Employment and Labour spokesperson said the department would issue a response this week.

Representatives of organised business and unions say they have been blindsided by an announcement that the state's Covid Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefit will not be extended any further. 

The relief benefit was introduced in March. It was established to allow businesses to continue paying salaries while their doors were closed during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus.

Business for South Africa (B4SA), which represents a majority of South African businesses partnering in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, said in a statement it had learned with "great concern" that the National Coronavirus Command Council decided not to extend the benefit further.

It says the news came without an official public announcement during a meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on Friday. 

Department of Employment and Labour spokesperson, Musa Zondi, would not immediately comment. He said the department would formally respond later this week.

The UIF TERS website, at present, states that new TERS applications may be submitted for the July – 15 September period until 30 October.

"There are still a significant number of employees who are vulnerable and whose employers are unable to implement special measures to ensure their safe return to work, or who are unable to return to work on a full-time basis on account of the current government restrictions under the State of Disaster," B4SA said.

Cosatu's parliamentary coordinator, Matthew Parks, told Fin24 that the next step would be for Nedlac to request an urgent meeting with Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu as well as labour minister Thulas Nxesi and ask President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene.

Parks said while the UIF would not be able to sustain the burden of Covid-19 relief indefinitely, proposals had been submitted for a hybrid model that could assist in the longer term.

Parks lamented "constant backlogs" in payments thus far and said that halting the relief was tantamount to either condemning vulnerable workers to starvation or forcing them to break safety regulations in order to earn a living.

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