The UIF has proposed that the Covid-19 TERS relief scheme be extended to:
- sectors still affected by lockdown regulations;
- employees with comorbidities; and
- employees over 60 years old who cannot be reasonably accommodated at work.
Also of significance is that the UIF has put forward proposals on how employees who have had to self-isolate or quarantine can now claim income replacement.
The UIF have confirmed that sectors:
- ranging from tourism to hospitality; and
- involved in the manufacturing, sale, dispensing, distribution and transportation of liquor would be covered.
The stated intention at NEDLAC is an effort to ensure that all businesses that are still affected by COVID-19 restrictions are covered by the extension. It is proposed that there will be two payment iterations. The first will be for the period between 16 October to 31 December 2020 and the second from 1 January to 15 March 2021. It is intended that the UIF start processing applications for the first period (16 October 2020 to 31 December 2020) by the first week of March 2021. The UIF will announce once the system is open for applications and will also provide easy aid guides and frequently asked questions to assist applicants with the application processes.
Employers in the relevant sectors should start to identify which of their employees may be eligible to benefit from the extension so that once the application process commences, the necessary applications can be made. Once the relevant Directives are issued by the Minister of Employment and Labour employers should determine whether their businesses fall within the identified sectors.
In 2020, we wrote and commented extensively in the media on COVID-19 TERS fraud. There were numerous follow ups in 2020 (many of which continue) on audits of the relief received in 2020. It is important that employers who apply for the extended COVID-19 TERS benefits ensure that there is a proper audit trail in place which can be made available to the Department of Employment and Labour where there is a request for an inspection. We have assisted various businesses in complying with inspection requests since 2020.