UIF WABU pays R6.4 million to workers affected by unrest

Hard lessons learnt from the Covid-19 TERS payments help to prevent double-dipping.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has disbursed R6.4 billion to 1,402 workers who were affected by the July 2021 unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, through the Workers Affected By Unrest (WABU) Relief Scheme.

The payments were made from applications received from 10 employers. These applications were tested against stringent criteria, which involves checking if workers were registered and declared with the UIF, whether monthly contributions are up to date, as well as physical inspections of affected businesses. 

UIF Acting Commissioner Advocate Mzie Yawa says, “From the 500 employer applications received, we have paid 1,402 workers, which is not a great number considering that 16,000 workers have applied. We are, however, not worried about this seemingly low number because it shows the robustness of our verification process, which ensures that only those who meet our standards are fit for payment.”  

According to a statement released by the UIF, the hard lessons learned from Covid-19 TERS payments were used to carry out due diligence and thorough verification before making any payments.

Double dipping
The fund has identified several WABU claims that have been submitted to other insurance companies where salaries are covered. Some also applied for and will get help from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which also covers salaries in their intervention. Yet some of these employers still applied for UIF’s WABU benefit. 

“We have also noted that some employers used false SAPS case numbers and luckily our system can pick up through checks that the cases are not genuine. We urge all to act honestly: these are hard-earned monies for vulnerable workers, not get-rich-quick schemes,” Mzie says.

Some of the claims were rejected because they have failed to meet the basic minimum requirements such as correct identity numbers, correct banking details, no UIF declarations and no UIF contributions found.

“We still have payments that bounce back due to incorrect banking details and we again appeal to employers to ensure that they supply us with correct bank accounts of their workers,” he adds.

The bulk of the applications have been picked up as beneficiaries from South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria) and Department of Trade and Industry and Competition, and the fund is checking that those claims cover salaries and wages – and if they do, they will be rejected to prevent double-dipping. 

The WABU benefit is paid directly into the employee’s bank account and is calculated at a flat rate of R3,500. The benefit is de-linked from the UIF’s normal benefits, which means workers’ accumulated credits are not used to calculate the benefit amount payable to the beneficiary. This will enable workers who have no credits to receive financial support whilst their workplaces are in the process of rebuilding or reopening.