The Department of Employment and Labour continues to make a difference to the lives of workers with payments through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), as well as working on processing COVID-19 claims that have come in through the Compensation Fund (CF).
For payments in May alone, the UIF has disbursed close to ZAR6bn ($344m) to 1,440,757 individuals to help them cope with the worst effects of the lockdown while the CF has logged 448 claims that have been received directly as well as via the Rand Mutual and Federated Employers.
The relief payments are part of the basket of services government has laid out to different sectors as a means to ride the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen businesses close and workers going without income. The UIF has plugged this hole for most workers who are able to take care of their families with this income replacement.
Cumulatively since 16 April, the UIF has paid over ZAR23bn to 3,663,932 workers represented by 322,422 employers, said the Department of Employment and Labour. Of significance is the continued direct payment of workers even though the claims were lodged by their employers.
However, the payment to domestic workers was far below the expectation, said UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping. “Between April 16 and 17 June, we paid a total of 35,374 domestic workers a collective amount of ZAR128,904,782. Even taking into account that live-in domestic workers are back at work already, it seems that we have not done enough to give proper sustenance to this vulnerable group.
“We have done something but it may not be good enough. We have been, and continue to encourage employers to lodge claims on behalf of their workers, particularly workers in vulnerable sectors like domestic workers and farming to apply for May relief payments. And again, based on the figures, it seems not enough people have taken the opportunity to apply,” he said.
The biggest worry now is the number of jobs being shed and how this will put a strain to the liquidity of the fund into the future, the statement added.