The department of labour has announced that close to 1.6 million South African workers are covered by applications already lodged by companies for COVID-19 payments.

The applications highlight the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the South African economy.

As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department of labour has issued a directive for relief to be provided to contributors who have lost income or required to take annual leave as a result of the coronavirus breakout.

To date, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has received just over 55 268 applications from employers representing about 1 601 767 employees.

In total, the UIF has over 1 800 000 employers registered on its database representing more than 8-million workers.

Of the received applications, the UIF has processed 37 673 employer applications which means that 606 462 employees will receive their benefit.

About 9 938 applications couldn’t be processed due to errors and the affected companies have been notified to correct their applications and resubmit. Some of the errors identified relate to incorrect banking details, making it impossible for payments to be processed.

As of today, the cumulative amount paid from April 16 to date is R1.1-billion.

“The UIF is working round the clock to meet the extraordinary volumes of requests for assistance presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 benefit scheme will provide much-needed relief to employees who have been laid off work or unable to earn an income due to COVID-19,” said Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi

Minister Nxesi has also acknowledged that the UIF system is under pressure as the fund is currently experiencing extraordinary volumes of requests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister says the department is in discussion with other public entities and the private sector to build additional capacity in order to fast track the processing of applications and payments thereof.

“We have acknowledged that our system was not designed to accommodate the increased volumes of requests that we are witnessing due to the COVID-19. We have already taken steps to mitigate this risk,” said Nxesi.

“We have asked the South African Revenue Service to work with us to resolve the backlog we are currently experiencing. SARS has responded positively and they are sending a team to work with the UIF to ensure that we distribute funds to deserving beneficiaries as swift and cost-efficient as possible. We have equally engaged other private sector companies to work with UIF to enhance the capacity of our IT system to respond to the growing number of requests.”

As part of being more responsive to claimants, the UIF call centre which initially had 75 agents, has increased its capacity and now has 200 agents manning the toll-free number (0800 030 007). More call centre agents will be added should the need arise.

Employers can apply via or contact the UIF on 0800 030 007.

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