Employees of Mighty Comms in Midrand, near Johannesburg, received a portion of their salaries despite the company not being fully operational during the nationwide lockdown.
This is thanks to the Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) for COVID-19, offered by the Department of Employment and Labour through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
The UIF also gives short-term relief to workers when they become unemployed or are unable to work due to maternity or adoption leave or illness.
Mighty Comms was among the successful businesses that received a TERS payment for its employees.
Mighty Comms Founder and Managing Director Refilwe Marumo says the company, which employs 24 people, was not able to generate income during the lockdown. This posed a threat to the business’s survival and its employees’ job security.
“Our biggest project is the roll-out of fibre to townships. The challenge with COVID-19 is that we have to physically lay fibre and install it in a client’s home, which was impossible during the lockdown because everyone had to stay home except for workers providing essential services. This hampered our installation activities and sales,” she says.
To keep the business afloat, Marumo quickly responded to the TERS call for employers to apply.
“I submitted the first application for UIF TERS on 10 April. It was Good Friday, but I submitted anyway because I did not want my employees going unpaid,” she says.
“I eventually submitted the necessary documents and got a response on 14 April. I had to resubmit because my first submission was incorrect. I later read an article saying the submission method had been changed. I was distraught, but I submitted again on 23 April using the new method and received payment two days later. I was relieved,” she says.
The company’s monthly payroll is generally R230 000. UIF paid R118 000.
Marumo says the fund will assist the company because it is temporary relief for employees, although it is not the whole salary package that they normally get.
“It is better than not getting a salary at all and it will assist them to meet their basic needs. Everyone in the company understands the crisis that the nation and the world is facing. We are grateful that such measures have been put in place to alleviate our stress. This also gives hope to employers and employees as such a time has the potential to negatively impact staff morale. The impact of the pandemic will be felt for months to come, but hopefully we will be able to access the UIF for those months,” she says.
R3.3 billion paid
By the end of April, government had dispersed R3.3 billion in COVID-19 TERS claim benefits, submitted by 1.75 million workers. At the time, UIF had received just over 103 000 applications from employers.
About 10 000 applications could not be processed due to errors. Affected companies have been asked to correct their applications and resubmit.
Some of the errors identified relate to incorrect banking details, making it impossible for payments to be processed.
The UIF call centre, which initially had 75 agents, has increased its capacity to 400 agents. More call centre agents will be added should the need arise.
How to apply for TERS funding
Businesses applying for funding must submit the following documents to the UIF:
- The completed agreement between the UIF, bargaining council and employer.
- A completed prescribed template containing employer information.
- Evidence of the past three months’ employee salaries.
- Confirmation of banking details, in the form of a certified current bank statement.
- A letter of authority on an official company letterhead, granting permission to the individual specified to lodge a claim on behalf of the company
For more information, call 0800 030 007 or visit www.uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19