On Thursday 11 February 2021, the President announced the extension of the COVID-19 Temporary Employee / Employer Relief Scheme. At the time of the announcement, details surrounding the extension remained unclear and it was stated that further particulars would be discussed with NEDLAC.
The period for the new extension was announced to be from 16 October 2020 to 15 March 2021. This period was broken up into 2 claim and payment periods, namely 16 October until 31 December 2020, and 1 January until 15 March 2021. The UIF notes that claims can be made for the entire period, or for part of the period, as relates to the affected employee’s loss of earnings.
On 28 February 2021, the UIF announced that the extension will apply to two categories of employees: Firstly, employees who are on temporary lay-off or Reduced Work Time within those sectors that have not been able to operate due to regulatory restrictions as per direction issued. Secondly, employees in all sectors who were required to self-isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, employees above the age of 60 and who could not be reasonably accommodated in the workplace, and employees with co-morbidities and who could not be reasonably accommodated in the workplace.
According to the frequently asked questions pamphlet as posted by the UIF, nothing has changed in relation to the calculation of benefits. Benefits are still calculated in terms of section 13(1) of the Act, which is based on the Income Replacement Rate (IRR) of 38% – 60%. However, should the benefit calculated in terms of the IRR together with any remuneration earned fall below R3 500, the benefit will be increased to ensure that the employee, in total of remuneration received and benefits, receives R3 500.
Employees who continue to be affected by short time, shift rotations, temporary layoff, and other operational requirements related to current economic conditions, but who do not work in the specified sectors, will be entitled to claim relief under section 12(1B) of the UI Act i.e. Reduced Work Time.
The application process for the COVID-19 TERS Benefit remains the same as for the previous periods and all claims must be lodged via the online portal. To effectively assess and process the claims under the conditions stipulated by the TERS Extension Direction, the UIF had to make some adjustments to the online portal and the associated application processes.
To ascertain whether you are eligible either as an employer or an employee to claim from this Temporary Relief Scheme during the COVID-19 pandemic and for assistance in doing so, please contact our offices.
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