Tag: relief

By S’thembile Cele for News24

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has warned that the state-run Unemployment Insurance Fund could collapse if it is forced to again extend special benefits to workers who’ve lost income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government initially committed R40 billion from the fund, which is financed using workers’ monthly contributions, to subsidise the special benefits for three months. The relief, which was given to those whose employers couldn’t afford to pay them or who were forced to take leave, was subsequently extended by a further four months until mid-October. Almost R53 billion has been dispensed to more than 4.7 million people so far.

While there have been reports that the UIF has R140 billion available that could be used to further extend the so-called Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme, much of the money is tied up in investments such as bonds, property and equities, and can’t be easily accessed, according to Nxesi. The fund will also need money to pay out regular unemployment claims to more than 1.5 million people in the near future, he said in an interview.

“If we blow this money on this temporary scheme, what will happen to the ordinary beneficiaries who have put their money into it?” he said. “We cannot collapse this fund.”

The Congress of South African Trade Unions earlier this month called for payments to workers in industries that remain adversely affected by virus-related curbs to be extended by a further two months. It noted that the fund has about R60 billion in liquid assets that could be utilized.

“It is far cheaper to invest in saving jobs and companies by extending TERS than to allow thousands of companies to close and retrench millions of workers,” Cosatu said. It conceded that the fund couldn’t provide ongoing support for workers, and called for “a combined package of relief in the form of stimulus, tax relief, and debt relief.”

Cosatu has been at loggerheads with the government over its decision to renege on a three-year pay deal agreed in 2018 by denying civil servants raises this year – a dispute that is now before the courts. The federation has also objected to plans to freeze state workers’ pay for the next three years – a measure the National Treasury has said is necessary to bring burgeoning state debt under control.

Nxesi, whose department oversees the protection of labuor rights, said he is closely monitoring negotiations with the unions, which are handled by the Department of Public Service and Administration.

“My view is that there is a need for a social compact across government to say how are we going to deal with the issue of a salary increment versus the job losses we are seeing,” he said.

The minister also said his department is busy drafting a national employment policy that will aim at dealing with an influx of undocumented foreign nationals, some of whom are exploited by local employers.

“We are looking at the sectors where we can implement quotas for local workers” to be employed as well as safeguard the rights of foreign workers who are legally in the country, he said.

 

TERS benefits extended by 6 weeks

Source: IOL

The South African government has decided to extend the Covid-19 Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefits to 15 August 2020.

The benefit was initially meant to run until the end of June.

Last week, in an attempt to stop the fraud that has been taking place from the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s relief scheme, the fund has introduced new and more stringent controls to verify banking details.

According to the Department of Employment and Labour, because of the introduction of the new safety measures, the fund has had to delay payments.

The department said in a statement that over the weekend it had resumed payments and disbursed R372 million of Covid-19 TERS benefit claims.

“The payment covered claims for April and May lodged by 15 866 employers benefiting 78 283 employees for whose banking details passed the verification process. Further payments were done today (July 14) with about R295m paid out from 1 824 employers benefiting 76 078 workers. This brings the total paid to date since April 16 to just under R30 billion (R 29 726 359 618.48) covering 6 789 695 workers from 539 953 employers,” the department said.

The South African government has decided to extend the Covid-19 Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefits to 15 August 2020.

As part of the new control measures, the fund has also introduced a new rule to the system that requires applicants to insert either the Enterprise number (CK/CIPC) or the ID number of the bank account holder in the TERS online portal in order to further verify banking details against the authorised claimant.

By Sibongile Khumalo for Fin24

Strained by operating under lockdown conditions since the end of March, the Wal-Mart owned Massmart is now seeking rental relief to manage its cash position.

The company’s stores such as Makro, Game and Builders Warehouse have only been allowed to sell essential goods during the lockdown period with the sale of alcohol banned under the current regulations.

“We will continue to proactively work with all suppliers and stakeholders to manage our cash position going forward including,” the company said in a trading update on Monday.

To save cash, it is “negotiating and participating in the rental relief package from the Property Industry Group”.

Various retailers have been hit by the shutdown or limited trading conditions and have been locked in rent negotiations with landlords, with property groups saying the lockdown is likely to have a negative impact on the commercial real estate, as Fin24 reported.

Massmart, which went into the lockdown already struggling under the weight of a sluggish economy and poorly performing Game stores, reported an almost 12% decline in sales for the 19 weeks to May 10.

The Covid-19 financial challenge comes on the back of declining profits as the group in 2019 reported a R861 million loss. This year it shut down its poor performing DionWired electronic stores and revealed that it would consider whether to close the 11 non-performing Masscash stores.

“We should also take into account that the company had lost a bit of market share before Covid-19 hit, the pandemic is now likely to delay their turnaround,” said Nolwandle Mthombeni, equity analyst at Mergence Investment Managers.

READ: Game, Makro and associated retailers freeze prices for essentials during lockdown

Mthombeni mentioned that the virus would have a “domino effect” on real estate as whole because landlords will now have to negotiate lower monthly rental with tenants who are battling cash flow challenges. The effect is also likely to extend to financial lenders as well, she said.

“Every single day of lost trade means income loss for retailers.”

Government has come under increasing pressure from various business organisations and political parties to open the economy, as companies continue to take a pounding from the restrictions.

South African has since moved to ease trade regulations as the country moved to level 4 of the lockdown and allowed the sale of winter clothing. By the end of the month, the country moves into level 3, which will allow for alcohol sales to resume, a significant category for retailers such as Massmart.

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

The Department of Labour has launched a simplified online portal for applications to the UIF Temporary Employer-Employee Scheme (TERS).

This follows after problems were reported with the previous application process, which saw only 136 out of 39,000 applications successfully processed.

15 755 of these applications were duplicates, and of the remaining applications, only 16 534 were in the correct CSV file format. Of these, only 136 contained the correct information, said the UIF.

One of the biggest obstacles to completing the application process correctly was the requirement to submit a pipe-delimited CSV file, which requires Windows users to change settings in the Control Panel menu, according to instructions from the UIF.

New online applications
The UIF’s new online application portal aims to provide companies with a simpler method for completing TERS applications.

The online interface allows applicants to complete a series of online forms and register a profile on the department’s website.

This removes the need to submit a pipe-delimited CSV file as part of the application.

While supporting documentation is required – including a PDF confirmation of company banking details – applicants can now complete employee details one-by-one on the online platform.

How to apply
To begin the application process, users must visit the UIF TERS application portal.

From here, you can register a profile on the portal, supplying a username, password, email address, and contact number.

Once registered, you will be able to apply for TERS funding by entering your company’s information and banking details.

The TERS national disaster application system will then require you to accept memorandums of understanding (MOAs) before uploading confirmation of your business banking details.

You can then choose to upload a CSV file with employee details or add employees one-by-one directly on the portal itself.

After this step is completed, your application will be submitted and processed by the UIF.

It should be noted that the TERS national disaster application website is flagged by Google Chrome as “Not Secure”, due to its use of an outdated security system which the browser states may expose user information when it is sent to the website.

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