On 21 July 2020 the Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour, Ms Boitumelo Moloi announced an extension to the COVID-19 Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (“TERS Benefits”) payments to the 15th of August 2020.
Previously, the Department of Employment and Labour had pointed out that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (“UIF”) would pay the TERS Benefits for a period of three months from the commencement of the lockdown until the end of June, at which point the economy would open up and the lockdown restrictions eased.
Ms Moloi stated that the extension of the TERS Benefits will not change the current structure and existing criteria and that these will remain the same. Ms Moloi further stated that the purpose of the UIF will have to be reconsidered in response to the lockdown and provide financial assistance to workers who have been negatively affected by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
As a consequence of the extension, Ms Moloi highlighted that the Department of Employment and Labour is also considering extending the closing date for April, May and June applications at the end of July 2020, but will, however, continue to process all valid applications already received in the last two months.
The Compensation Fund
The Compensation Fund has committed to consider any claim from workers who contract the virus while at work involving the pay-out for temporary disablement while the worker is in quarantine, self-isolation or hospitalised, payment of medical expenses and where the illness results in the loss of life, the Fund will pay out survivor benefits to dependents in the form of a monthly pension and funeral benefit.
The Compensation Fund also committed to prioritise the Rehabilitation and Return to Work programme, underpinned by proposed amendments to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.
This announcement comes as a welcome relief to workers who have seen their sources of income being negatively affected by the nationwide lockdown.