The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is still not paying out special coronavirus grants as it tries to verify the identity documents of those who applied over recent months.
The delay has resulted in new cut-off dates for applications for the so-called Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS):https://9fdc3e391d13485b5c76a64a847e1d6b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
- The final deadline for TERS applications for March to May 2020 is September 25.
- TERS applications for June close on October 15.
- TERS applications for July to September 15 close on October 30.
The UIF’s process to pay out the TERS grants has been marred with irregularities.
In a new report, the auditor-general outlined various problems it found with the TERS system, including that the UIF did not sufficiently corroborate information it received from applicants.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
This resulted in fraudulent payments, which included:
- Almost R696 million was paid to foreigners who have not made UIF contributions in the past 12 months
- More than 50 children under the age of 15 received payments
- More than R440,000 was paid out to the accounts of dead people
- Almost R170,000 was paid to prisoners
- More than R30 million was paid to people with invalid identity numbers
- It also found that there was “double dipping” of more than R140 million – thousands of people who already get state grants, including students and disability grant recipients also received TERS payments.
The AG report resulted in the suspension of top UIF executives, including its commissioner Teboho Maruping.
The UIF took the TERS platform offline over the past weekend to implement changes to its systems, as recommended by the AG. The system was supposed to be restored by Monday, but by Tuesday it was still down.
“Currently payments are still on hold as the [UIF] is still working with the Department of Home Affairs and other government databases to verify about 5 million identity documents of Covid-19 TERS applications. This is done to ensure that payments are made to deserving and authentic workers,” said Marsha Bronkhorst, acting UIF Commissioner, in a statement.
“We are aware of the negative impact this delay has caused and is causing. But in the interests of mitigating the risks which have been identified both by our Risk Unit and the Auditor General, we unfortunately have to pause payments,” she added.
In total, the UIF has paid out almost R42 billion in 9.5 million payments to workers.
From July, claims will only cover employees whose employers are:
- not permitted to commence operations under lockdown regulations
- unable to make alternative arrangements for vulnerable workers (those above the age of 60 years, or with co-morbidities), such as working from home
- unable to make use of their services because of the coronavirus restrictions, for example on how many employees can be in the workplace at the same time.