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In the light of this sudden and forceful epidemic that has hit South Africa, the president has declared a national shutdown for twenty-one days. It is for this reason that our top priority is to ensure that our clients are well informed in relation to the COVID 19 virus and the impact it has in the workplace and the economy in general.

The goal is to ensure that each employer has enough knowledge to make sound decisions using sober judgement. This is merely a guideline on how to handle the current situation in the workplace and it is thus imperative that you contact us directly should you experience any uncertainties. Each employer should use their own discretion, within reasonableness and/ or within a legal framework together with our assistance.

Sober judgement can only be utilized if an employer is well informed. Precautionary measures should be adhered to even in the comfort of your own home. The national shutdown is for you and your family’s safety.

Employees must take note that this is deemed to be a temporary layoff which effectively means that a “No work, No pay” policy may legally be enforced. This can be troublesome as the most employees cannot protect their livelihood on such short notice. It is for this reason that we strongly encourage all employers to be sensitive and reasonable where practically possible.

We advise you use the following questions to guide you in terms of practicality and reasonableness when making decisions in the following few days.

  1. Is it at all possible to accommodate the employee in any way?
  2. How will this influence the company in the long run?
  3. Will it be practically possible to continue services?
  4. How will this influence day to day operations?
  5. Can we help these employees in any other way?

These questions will be focused mainly on the question many employers are asking; “Should I pay my employees during this period?” To paraphrase the words of our president, any company that can afford to pay their employees, are encouraged to do so.

What if I cannot afford to pay my employees during this period?

The government has issued some relief to these businesses. A national disaster relief benefit has been established, where employers can claim monies for the employees. This benefit cannot be used in conjunction with any other UIF benefits. Other UIF benefits available to employees include but are not limited to the death benefit and the forced shutdown benefit.

Amid all the sudden changes taking place within our country, we have decided on compiling a step-by-step guide on how the “relief schemes” mentioned by President Ramaphosa work, and what you will need.

The following measures will be discussed:

  • National Disaster Benefit
  • Reduced working time and/or forced shutdown
  • Death Benefit

National Disaster Benefit

If the company needs to close as a direct result of the Corona virus and the employer cannot pay his employees for this period, the employer can apply for the “National Disaster Benefit” from the UIF. This benefit is paid at a flat rate of R3500 per employee irrespective of income for the duration of the shutdown or 3 months (whichever may be shorter). This benefit cannot be used in conjunction with any other UIF benefit.

Documents to complete:

  • UI19 and UI2.7 (Completed by employer)
  • 1 (the application)
  • 8 (completed by the bank)
  • Copy of employee’s ID document
  • A letter from the Employer confirming company shutdown is due to the Corona Virus

Reduced working time and/or forced shutdown

Where a Company shuts down for a certain period or implements Short Time. For every 4 days worked the employee accumulates 1 credit day, and maximum credits days payable is 365 for every four completed years of service.

Documents to complete:

  • UI19 and UI2.7 (Completed by employer – choose option 17 on the UI19 document)
  • 1 (the application)
  • 8 (completed by the bank)
  • Copy of employee’s ID document
  • A letter from the Employer confirming company shutdown is due to the Corona Virus

Death Benefit

Benefits are paid to the beneficiaries of the deceased. People eligible to apply are a Spouse, Life Partner, Children and nominated persons, in that order.

Documents to complete:

  • UI19 and UI 53 (completed by the Employer)
  • UI 2.5 or UI2.6 (deceased application)
  • Death Certificate
  • ID of deceased and applicant
  • UI 2.8 (bank form completed by the bank)
  • Copy of ID documents.

How to apply for these benefits?

Employers must complete the UI 19 Form stating the last date of termination and the reason thereof. The forms can be submitted through the following method:

  • Email the application to the nearest UIF processing Centre. (Reduced Work Time/Death benefits)

Rapid Response Teams have been established to assist companies with processing of claims in cases where they have retrenchments of more than 50 employees. Details can be provided upon request.

Food for thought

It is possible to “lend” employees their annual leave. These employees will then be granted the opportunity to prepare, mentally and financially, for a period of unpaid leave later in the year.

In the event and should you still struggle to make a judgement call, it is advisable to rather contact our offices.

All documents can be downloaded on www.labour.gov.za

Article by:

Contact Labour (Pty) Ltd

012 770 2788


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