Africa World

Thu 29 July 2021:

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi says the Department of Employment and Labour is committed to assist workers who have been affected by the recent events in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Nxesi said businesses or companies in distress following the unrest may also apply for the normal Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS).

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Nxesi said the recent events in the two provinces may lead to a temporary lay-off from work or an outright retrenchment.

“The Unemployment Insurance Fund has a basket of benefits that can serve as intervention mechanisms to support the affected workers and companies,” Nxesi said.

“According to our own assessment, about 75 000 employees have been affected by the destruction in the two provinces,” Nxesi said.


He said it should be mentioned upfront that there is currently no benefit quite suited to the current situation.

“The COVID-19 TERS benefit was established as an intervention for a specific state of disaster situation. Therefore, the current benefits under the Unemployment Insurance Act are the only interventions available to cover the affected workers,” Nxesi said.

Nxesi said in order to ensure that the basic tenets of the Act are not violated, his department is drafting a special directive dealing with the plight of the affected workers in the two provinces.

“The spirit of the directive will be to ensure that workers, who would not normally qualify for these benefits due to non-compliance of the employer with the Act that they are able to access these benefits.

“However, I should emphasise that it will not be a free for all, the criteria to determine who qualifies is going to be stringent and payments will be based on the resources available.

“Whilst it is our desire to pay all affected workers, it should be borne in mind that the Fund’s resources are limited,” Nxesi said.

Nxesi said he had instructed his department’s officials to gather data of businesses that have been affected and also to perform an analysis of those who will afford to carry their employees’ salaries during this period.

“On the basis of this analysis we shall be able to indicate the benefit calculation that we will follow, whether it is a flat rate across the board, an Income Replacement Rate, or a combination of the two depending on the circumstances and nature of the particular application.

“All details pertaining to who qualifies, the payment structure, the application process and the duration of the payment period will be outlined in the direction to be issued shortly. We are mindful of the urgency of the matter.

“We therefore commit to expediting the process of drafting and approval of the directive. The UIF already has a system in place that will help fast-track the payments,” Nxesi said.

Nxesi explained that applications for TERS are made via the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), and an independent adjudication committee evaluates all proposals and makes a recommendation to the Director-General of the Department of Employment and Labour.

“It is a reality that some of the businesses will not fully recover from the damage they have suffered, which will result in retrenchments.

“The UIF will ensure that it prioritises those retrenched employees in some of the Labour Activation Programmes that are designed to place retrenched workers in employment opportunities,” Nxesi said.






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