Nxesi concerned employers not doing enough to assist UIF payouts for desperate employees

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi is concerned that some employers have not helped in claiming UIF relief payments for their employees by either not submitting the required documents or not forwarding paid out benefits in full.

Nxesi has pleaded with employers to submit all the needed documents for their employees to ensure that payments are sent through. The minister said R3.2 billion has not been paid out to employers because the necessary documents for about 725 791 workers have not been submitted.

The fund began making payments to employees as part of the government’s relief program to help supplement reduced salaries caused by the national lockdown. Workers would benefit from the fund through applications made by their employers.

Since April, the fund has disbursed more than R21-billion benefitting 3 609 161 workers represented by 314 454 employers, the department said on Monday.

Nxesi said he was concerned that workers who were in desperate need of funds were not receiving the payments.

“In as much as some companies have re-opened as a result of the risk-adjusted strategy which has seen the country move to level 3 of the lockdown, we acknowledge that there are still people who would find the injection from the UIF helpful and making a huge difference. There are still a number of companies that are either still closed or in dire straits and we hope those workers are not left in destitute,” Nxesi said.

The minister said the same pattern of missing documentation in UIF applications was being observed for May.

“The May payments are already at R3.2 billion and have benefitted 782 602 workers represented by 57 260 employers. Unfortunately, even in this round, 85 049 workers who would have benefitted from R356 million in payments have still not received the money as the details submitted by employers are missing.

“It is tempting to think of this appeal as counter-intuitive in the sense that we would be wanting to save money because it is clear that the demands on the UIF going forward are going to be massive. But we move from the point that it’s important that workers are not disadvantaged and as such, we appeal for the details so that the Fund can help those who need the money or for whom this may be the only source of funds,” the minister said.

Another concern for the department was that preliminary audits have shown that some employers have not been forwarding all the funds to their workers.

“It is alleged that there are companies that have not paid the workers what is due to them. We are aware of some companies allegedly loaning employees the money and that is not legal. We are also aware of other companies that are allegedly paying part of the money and not the full amount, as well as companies using the money for something else other than the intended purpose. If this all these allegations are true, we appeal to companies to do the right thing still, said Nxesi.

Nxesi said employers that were not compliant with the UIF Act would face fines and were required to pay back any debt owed to the fund.

“There are many cases where companies have not declared workers or have not contributed for employees. We will be raising debt against those companies and they must know that they need to pay back with interest and other penalties owed to the UIF. It is in all our interest to do the right thing. Even without being compliant, we have done the right thing and still paid them the Covid-19 relief and they also have to do the right thing,” said Nxesi.