Extended COVID-19 Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) Benefits Update

On 20 April 2021, the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thembelani Nxesi, published a further Direction Providing COVID-19 TERS Benefits for Certain Categories of Employees (Updated Direction). The purpose of the Updated Direction is to make the process of applying for TERS benefits less cumbersome in order to ensure that employees who qualify, are more likely to receive the benefit.

17 May 2021 2 min read Employment Law Alert Article

At a glance

  • The Minister of Employment and Labour published an Updated Direction on 20 April 2021 to simplify the process of applying for COVID-19 TERS benefits.
  • The primary change in the Updated Direction is the removal of the requirement for employers to provide proof of their inability to make alternative arrangements for employees with comorbidities or employees over the age of 60 to work from home.
  • Instead, employers are now required to submit specific categories of data to the National Institute for Occupational Health, aligning with the Department of Health's guidelines, in order to qualify for and receive the TERS benefits.

The Updated Direction is the latest publication in a series of alerts that CDH has published on TERS benefits. The Updated Direction’s primary change relates to the application process for benefits. The Directions, as explained in our previous alert, previously required proof that employers are unable to make alternative arrangements for employees with comorbidities, and employees over the age of 60 to work from home. The employer was required to submit a report or affidavit in this regard depending on the number of employees that they employed.

A report or affidavit is now no longer required. The employer is now required to submit categories of data to the National Institute for Occupational Health in the manner set out in the National Department of Health Guidelines, namely:

  • “each employee’s vulnerability status for serious outcomes of a COVID-19 infection;
  • details of the COVID-19 screening of employees who are symptomatic;
  • details of employees who test positive in terms of a positive laboratory test for the COVID-19 virus;
  • details of employees identified as high-risk contacts within the workplace if a worker has been confirmed as being positive; and
  • details on the post-infection outcomes of those testing positive, including the return to work assessment outcome.”

Furthermore, the employee declaration returns by the employer will confirm loss of income and thus inability to make alternative arrangements for the affected employees.

When an employee was in quarantine and isolation, the employer and employee were previously each required to submit an affidavit confirming that the employee was in contact with a person who had tested positive for COVID-19. The Updated Direction consolidates this requirement, instead requiring the employer to submit the categories of data in order to qualify for, and receive, the benefit. 

Accordingly, the Updated Direction has two important changes that employers should be aware of:

  • Firstly, it standardises what must be submitted in the application for TERS benefits; and
  • Secondly, the Department of Employment and Labour have aligned with the Department of Health’s requirements regarding the submission of COVID-19 health-related data from workplaces.

The Updated Direction is a further step by the Department of Employment and Labour to improve the process of applying for TERS benefits, in order to ensure that those who qualify are not at risk of failing to receive the benefits due to process-related complications.

Employers will now no longer be required to follow separate procedures for employees with comorbidities, employees over the age of 60 and employees in quarantine or isolation. We invite our readers to read our previous alerts which cover the full details of the TERS benefit.

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