Understaffed UIF facing massive backlog

UIF lacks capacity to deal with thousands of calls and emails.

Business Insider reports that the UIF is facing a capacity crisis, with only 40 call centre staff fielding 77,000 calls per day and eight agents attending to a backlog of 444,000 emails.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) and the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour expressed concern about the UIF’s lack of capacity following an oversight visit.

In a statement, Scopa expressed concern about the lack of human capacity at the UIF, particularly at the call centre. Scopa noted that the consulting company responsible for the development of the system could not respond to questions about its failings and that the ICT department, where e-mails, online applications and calls from the public are processed, needed urgent attention.

The committee has requested that the Department of Employment and Labour explore the creation of an integrated database system with other departments to avoid the system’s vulnerabilities, which enable corruption.
In September, the Auditor-General (AG) reported failures with the UIF’s Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme, which was to disburse special lockdown-related payments.

The AG report resulted in the suspension of top UIF executives, including commissioner Teboho Maruping, chief financial officer Fezeka Puzi and chief operations officer Judith Kumbi.

Scopa said that the issues plaguing the UIF are clearly long-standing and existed prior to Covid-19.