Companies in distress can lean on UIF, says Employment and Labour minister

UIF will be used to offer coronavirus-affected companies and employees some much-needed relief.

Coronavirus-affected companies may receive a reprieve after Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi announced this week that distressed employees and employers will not have to contribute towards the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

According to Business Day, this has been made possible by the UIF’s expected surplus of about R3.6 billion over the next three years and investments of around R180 billion, which after liabilities amount to R160 billion. 

Addressing the Executive Committee meeting at The National Economic Development and Labour, the minister said the fund’s Temporary Employer/ Employee Relief Scheme will also be used to ensure that workers are not laid off.

“In instances where companies decide to close for a short period as a precautionary measure, the short term UIF benefit will kick in. If a company contemplates a short-term shutdown, they are required to inform the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Our team will visit these companies to provide assistance with the processing of the claims,” said Nxesi.

The minister also said that, in instances where an employee has to be self-quarantined for 14 days, that time off will be recognised as special leave which will be fully paid on condition that the reason for the quarantine meets the requirements and that employee can apply for UIF benefits.

In an event that an employee is required to be quarantined for longer than 14 days as a result of having travelled or being in contact with an infected person, that leave will also be recognised as special leave and that employee will be eligible to apply for unemployment insurance benefits,