The Minister of Employment and Labour has issued a further directive on 26 May 2020 amending the Covid-19 Temporary Relief Scheme, 2020, also known as the “C-19 TERS”. This scheme formed the subject matter of our bulletins of 29 March 2020, 10 April 2020, 30 April 2020, and more recently, 20 May 2020. You can read these bulletins here:
- Two new ways to apply for UIF benefits under the COVID-19 Temporary Employee / Employer Relief Scheme
- Effect of the national lockdown on employent contracts and the relief offered by government in light of the Covid-19 crisis
- What you need to know about the amendments to the Covid-19 temporary employer/employee relief scheme ('C-19 TERS')
- Further amendments to the Covid-19 temporary employer/employee relief scheme ('C-19 TERS')
In this bulletin update, we discuss the meaning and effect of the term “worker” as introduced in the amendment.
Extended meaning of workers
In terms of the previous directives governing the C-19 TERS, only employees who had lost income or had been required to take annual leave due to the Covid-19 pandemic and whose employers were registered with the UIF were entitled to the TERS benefit.
However, as of 26 May 2020, not only employees as aforementioned are entitled to the TERS benefits. The most recent amendment to C-19 TERS has introduced the term “worker” which is defined to include employees who should have received TERS benefits but were not able to due to circumstances beyond their control. The circumstances contemplated are that their employer failed to:
- register as an employer under the Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act, 2002;
- provide details relating to the employees in contravention of the Act; or
- pay the contributions contemplated in the Act in respect of those employees.
The effect of the definition is to allow for a whole new category of workers to claim from the C-19 TERS.
The Department of Employment and Labour clearly intends that relief should be afforded to those workers who would otherwise not have been entitled to receive the benefit based on the employer’s failure to comply with its UIF obligations, but who nonetheless suffer the financial hardship because of the closure, or partial closure, of their employer’s business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An important category of workers who may now become entitled to benefits are domestic workers, many of whom work for employers who are not registered with the UIF and who do not contribute. Of course, this will certainly assist many other additional workers with relief in South Africa.