All eyes on Cabinet to approve TERS payments during level 4

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Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition.
Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition.
Netwerk24
  • At a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, a decision is expected on whether TERS payments will be made to workers who can't earn an income during lockdown level 4.
  • Cabinet still also needs to decide which industries may benefit.  
  • This follows an in-principle agreement at Nedlac, according to Cosatu and the Restaurant Association of SA.


Some workers who can’t earn an income due to the level 4 lockdown regulations could receive Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) payments soon – if Cabinet agrees to it at a meeting on Wednesday.

Cosatu and the Restaurant Association of South Africa confirmed to Fin24 that an agreement was reached at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to reinstate TERS.

However, acting spokesperson for the Department of Employment and Labour Musa Zondo said: "We can't confirm anything until Cabinet concurs - which is where the process is." Zondo said that the sectors that may receive TERS also still need to be confirmed, because Cabinet "may very well have a different view".

Many businesses are currently closed, including cinemas, gyms, bars, casinos and restaurants.

"We will make the announcement once all processes are finalised," Zondo told Fin24. Cabinet will discuss the TERS payments on Wednesday, Fin24 understands.

Director of communication and marketing at the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), Makhosonke Buthelezi, said the list of worker categories eligible for TERS in the extension included the liquor industry and its value chain, gyms, events, conferencing, aviation, tourism and allied sectors and many more.

Admin problems, fraudulent payments

TERS was introduced at the start of hard lockdown in 2020 and was suspended almost a year later in March 2021. While TERS was beset with administrative problems and fraudulent payments were made, it provided income support of R60 billion to over five million workers during a tough economic time. 

Cosatu parliamentary liaison officer Matthew Parks said an in-principle agreement was reached at Nedlac that TERS will be paid to affected workers during level 4, which started on 29 June - and in the event of a fourth wave, which is expected in November.

Parks said there was an agreement that the existing TERS formula would be applied, which means amounts paid will be a percentage of an employee’s salary, according to a sliding scale from 38% (highest earners) to 60% (lowest earners). The sliding scale stops at R17 702: All workers earning more than this will only get the 38% maximum benefit, which is R6 730 a month.

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) said that its sector will be covered by the TERS benefits.

'Government has a responsibility'

RASA CEO Wendy Alberts said government had a responsibility to intervene in aiding businesses whose operations were hindered by the level 4 national lockdown.

"Fourteen months into lockdown we find ourselves trying to get reprieve. The law is clear that we need to be compensated when their ability to earn an income is impeded by the lockdown restrictions being imposed on our businesses with no other mechanisms to assist us," said Alberts.

RASA has approached Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, to request that he release the industry from all rental and bank loan payments during the lockdown, and allow for loan payment deferment regime for 60 days.

"If we do not get the relief that we want from Minister Patel, then the entire restaurant industry will be wiped out. We cannot allow that to happen," Alberts said.

She said government should have planned to have the funds available to assist the industry as many restaurants were now inching closer to permanent closure.

Alberts added that government also had to present data on the role of restaurants in trauma cases and deaths to justify restrictions on restaurant operations.

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