When an employee loses his/her job or is unable to work for a short period of time due to certain circumstances, for example, illness or pregnancy, s/he may be faced with a hard time financially. The Unemployment Insurance Fund in South Africa (“UIF”) aims to help by providing unemployment insurance benefit payments to certain employees during their time of unemployment.
What is the Unemployment Insurance Fund (“UIF”)?
- The UIF is a fund created to lighten the effects of unemployment for a short period of time.
- An employer and his/her employee must each contribute 1% of the employee’s salary to the UIF monthly (“contributions”) in exchange for unemployment insurance benefit payments (“benefits”). It is the employer’s responsibility to register an employee with and pay these contributions over to the UIF.
- When an employee (“contributor”) becomes unemployed or is unable to work the employee may claim benefits from the UIF. Also when an employee dies, the dependants of that employee may claim benefits from the UIF.
Who is entitled to claim from the UIF?
- An employee may claim from the UIF if s/he:
- makes or made his/her monthly contributions to the UIF;
- makes an application for benefits by completing the prescribed form at the employment office;
- makes an application within the prescribed time period;
- submits the required information (such as, his/her identity document, details of bank account and/or certificate of service); and
- complies with the requirements set by the UIF.
- An employee may not claim from the UIF if s/he:
- does not comply with the law relating to unemployment; or
- is suspended from receiving a benefit, for example, s/he has made a dishonest benefit claim.
What are the types of benefits that may be claimed from the UIF?
- Unemployment benefits
- Illness benefits
- Maternity benefits
- Adoption benefits
- Dependant benefits
- If an employee loses part of his/her income, while being employed, due to reduced working hours, s/he may claim benefits from the UIF.
- An employee is paid benefits in accordance with a benefit scale determined by the Minister of Labour, taking into account the employee’s monthly income earned.
What are unemployment benefits?
- Unemployment benefits may be claimed by an employee (“applicant”) who is no longer working due to retrenchment; dismissal; ending of his/her fixed term contract; insolvency of his/her employer; or death of his/her employer.
- The period of unemployment must be for more than 14 days. An application for unemployment benefits must be made within 12 months.
- The applicant must be registered as a work seeker with the labour centre and be capable to and available for work.
- The applicant will not be entitled to benefits if s/he fails to comply with the requirements of the UIF such as, reporting on certain times and dates or refusing to attend training and vocational counselling.
What are illness benefits?
- Illness benefits may be claimed by an applicant who is unable to work due to an illness.
- The period of illness must be for more than 7 days. An application for illness benefits must be made within 12 months.
- The applicant will not be entitled to benefits if s/he fails to undergo medical treatment or fails to comply with the instructions of his/her doctor, chiropractor or homeopath.
What are maternity benefits?
- Maternity benefits may be claimed by an applicant who is unable to work due to being pregnant, for any period of her pregnancy, delivery or the period immediately after her pregnancy.
- Maternity benefits may only be claimed for a period of plus minus 4 months (17.32 weeks). An application for maternity benefits can be made at any time before the birth of her child or within 12 months after.
- An applicant who had a miscarriage during the 3rd trimester of her pregnancy or had a stillbirth may claim maternity benefits.
- An applicant must consult his/her employer’s internal policy relating to maternity leave. Some employers may make full or part payment of the employee’s salary while she is on maternity leave.
What are adoption benefits?
- Adoption benefits may be claimed by an applicant who is unable to work due to him/her adopting a child.
- An applicant may claim adoption benefits from the date of the adoption order. The application for adoption benefits must be made within 6 months after the date of the adoption order.
- Adoption benefits may only be claimed by one of the adoptive parents in order to spent time caring for the child who must be below the age of 2 years.
What are dependant benefits?
- Dependant benefits may be claimed by the surviving spouse or life partner of a deceased employee. If there is no surviving spouse or life partner, a dependant child may claim dependant benefits.
- A deceased employee may nominate a person to claim dependant benefits if there is no surviving spouse, life partner or dependant child.
- The application for dependant benefits must be made within 18 months after the death of the employee by the surviving spouse or life partner. If the surviving spouse or life partner fails to make such an application within 18 months, the dependant child must make an application for dependant benefits within 14 days.
Do you have any more questions?
Are there employees not entitled to claim from the UIF?
- The following employers and employees are not covered by the law relating to unemployment and may not claim from the UIF:
- an employee that works less than 24 hours a month; or
- independent contractors.
- Learners, foreign employees and employees working for the State (public servants) may also claim from the UIF.
What information is required when claiming benefits from the UIF?
- An application for benefits must be made at an employment office by completing a prescribed from.
- When making such an application, the employee will be required to present certain documents such as, an identity document, certificate of service and/or so on. The UIF may not keep these documents; please make certified copies for submission.
- Failure to complete the prescribed form or present the required document will delay the process or result in the claim not being processed; no benefits.
What happens if an application for benefits is rejected by the UIF?
- After making an application for benefits from the UIF, the application will be processed and a claims officer will advise the employee of his/her decision in writing. If the application is rejected the employee must receive reasons why the claim was rejected.
- If the claim for benefits was rejected, an appeal may be filed with the UIF’s Regional Appeals Committee.
- The UIF’s Regional Appeals Committee must notify the employee of their decision. However, their decision is not final and the employee may appeal to National Appeals Committee.
- A decision by the National Appeal Committee is final, only subject to judicial review (court).
Must domestic workers be registered with the UIF?
- A domestic worker (“employee”) who works for more than 24 hours per month must be registered with the UIF by his/her employer.
- The following does not affect the registration of a domestic worker with the UIF:
- the amount of wages the employee is paid;
- the number of households the employee works at (each employer must separately register the employee with the UIF);
- whether or not the employee is employed on a casual basis.
Can benefits paid by the UIF be attached by a court order?
- No, benefits must be used as an income when the employee is unemployed or unable to work.
- Benefits may not be attached by a court order to pay a debt this is owing by the employee to a third party. Benefits may, however, be attached by a court order to pay dependant child or spousal maintenance.
- Benefits may also not be set off against a debt that is owing by the employee.