The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has received applications for COVID-19 related financial relief from 22,776 employers since the lockdown was enforced 12 days ago.
The employment and labour minister implemented programmes through the UIF in terms of the Disaster Management Act to minimise the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the labour market.
According to a progress report seen by Eyewitness News, the fund has also doubled its claims payouts since the start of the lockdown.
Over R300 million worth of claims have been recorded by the UIF in applications for the temporary employer/employee relief scheme benefits.
The UIF has committed to paying out benefits to workers for lost income during the lockdown and COVID-19 crisis through their employers and collective bargaining councils.
UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping said: “Ordinarily, we pay between R15 million and R20 million a day and now we’re paying an average of R30 million a day. The number of people claiming per day ahs increases substantially since the lockdown.”
The UIF’s website has also seen an unprecedented number of hikes.
On 21 March, only 49,000 people visited the u-filing site, which saw an increase of 539,991 four days later and 477,811 this Monday.
Maruping explains what could be behind the massive hits, albeit that increased activity was expected due to the economic impact of covid-19.
“For me, it’s a reflection that people are testing to see if this thing is working or they may be anxious, wanting to know if they would really benefit or if they are able to apply.
The highest number of claims were made in the personal services sector followed by trade, agriculture and building.
R10 BILLION TO COVER SALARY CUTS
The UIF said it should be able to cover the shortfall of most employees affected by salary cuts announced this week due to the coronavirus.
A number of companies have announced that they will be cutting the salaries of employees or executives to address the financial woes caused by the 21-day lock down.
Non-essential industries have been closed for about 13 days now with some employees able to work from home but other industries have been brought to a complete standstill.
The Independent Media Group, EOH, and Pam Golding are just some of the big employers that have resorted to cutting the salaries of employees by between 20% and 45% to keep afloat.
R10 billion has been allocated to a special national disaster benefit fund to help employees who have had to take a pay cut or have lost their jobs because of COVID-19.
UIF spokesperson Makhosonke Buthelezi said: “The UIF will be able to cover the shortfall according to the funds income replacement rate of between 38% and 60%.”
The fund said the R10 billion had only been allocated for the 21-day lockdown and any disputes beyond that would be addressed with the UIF’s general funds.
Additional reporting by Kgomotso Modise.