New: Foreign Employees Notification

In our blog post on 27 May 2020 we informed you that the Department of Labour and UIF now recommend that declarations for foreign employees be captured on uFiling. SimplePay has now introduced a new notification for foreign employees. When clicking on Submit for a finalised UIF Declaration, the confirmation screen will include an alert for the number of foreign employees included in the UIF Declaration being submitted. You can then log into uFiling and complete the declaration for those foreign employees.

For more information on UIF Declarations, head to our help page here.

If you require further assistance, feel free to contact us.

Team SimplePay

Week Recap and Level 3 of Lockdown – Effect on Business

Closing off the month of May and level 4 of lockdown in style, this blog will give a brief overview of what’s been covered this week in our blogs, before turning to what businesses can expect under level 3 in June.

Week Recap

REMINDER – The deadline for the Annual Employer Reconciliation Period is this Sunday, 31 May, as detailed in our previous blog.

Upcoming ETI changes for the May EMP201 blog contents:

  • Revisions to the COVID-19 ETI legislation is being completed in time for May payroll submissions
  • Please delay in submitting for May, we shall ensure the changes are ready for 7 June and shall inform you when the changes are complete

TERS Applications for May Open blog contents:

  • Details of the application process for COVID-19 TERS applications.
  • Key changes between the TERS process for May in comparison to April

TERS: Foreign Workers Update blog contents: 

  • Details surrounding the issue(s) in making a claim for TERS benefits on behalf of foreign employees
  • Possible means of remedying the issue and prospective changes for May applications

New Functionality: Download Responses to Electronic UIF Submissions blog contents:

  • Users can now download responses from the UIF in relation to their monthly UI-19 submissions

Level 3 of Lockdown – Effect on Business

On Sunday 24 May, the President announced that the whole country will move to level 3 of lockdown on 1 June. We thought it would be handy to provide you with a blog on what this actually means for your business. Below we have summarised some of the most relevant points to note for life under level 3.

Which Businesses can now Open?

According to President Ramaphosa, as of 1 June all manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, professional and business services, wholesalers, retailers, media services and ICT businesses can reopen.

Retailers can be fully reopened, including stores, spaza shops and informal traders. Additionally, airlines will be allowed to reopen, initially for domestic business purposes, with more air travel being phased in on announced dates.

Industries which were open under levels 4 and 5, such as agriculture, medical services and food production, will remain fully open.

In the President’s speech, he stated that the reopening will be contingent on each business creating a workplace plan. This plan must be aligned with the Government’s guidance (discussed below), as well as any protocols released by the relevant sector (if any are released). 

You can read the Government’s notice on lockdown level 3 here. The most relevant sections to this blog are sections 46 and 47. Below are a few key points from subsections of  section 46:

  • Businesses and other institutions with over 100 employees must implement measures to minimise the number of employees in the workplace at one time. Examples given include shift patterns and remote working.
  • Relevant health protocols and social distancing measures must be adhered to, including the screening of employees.
  • Construction, manufacturing, business and financial services firms with more than 500 employees must finalise appropriate sector or workplace arrangements addressing transport, staggering employee working and screening, whilst also documenting these actions.

Under section 47 of the above notice found in the PDF linked below, each business needs to designate a “COVID-19 compliance officer”. The compliance officer needs to implement the aforementioned workplace plan, as well as oversee the adherence to hygiene measures. 

Further details of the requirements of the workplace plan and compliance officer can be found in section 47, on page 14 of this linked document.

Which Businesses must Remain Closed?

Under level 3, a number of businesses must remain closed, these include:

  • Hairdressers and beauty salons
  • Restaurants, except for the provision of takeaways, drive through services and collection
  • Bars, taverns, shebeens, nightclubs and casinos
  • Hotels, ledges and other accommodation facilities (except for certain permitted guests)
  • Gyms and sports facilities
  • Exhibit and conference centres
  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Museums
  • Flea Markets and bazaars

If we are made aware of any developments for the above mentioned businesses, we shall update you.

Recommendations from Government

For this new list of businesses that can return to work, the President advised that where possible, employees should work from home. Where this is not practicable workplace plans should be in place. Additionally, those deemed especially vulnerable, such as employees over 60 years old and those who suffer from underlying conditions, should ideally work from home. Failing this, the employer needs to ensure that these vulnerable employees have a safe return to work, which may include the use of special measures.

A potential problem which was identified from the reopening of the economy is the use of public transport. It was stated that all commuters must wear masks and wash their hands before and after travelling, as well as avoiding touching their faces with unwashed hands.

The full transcript of the President’s speech can be read by following this link and an infographic summarising level 3 is linked here.

Closing on a positive, to relieve the stress provided by business operations and TERS applications, you now have the opportunity to release that tension by exercising between 6am and 6pm! And on that happy note, we wish you a pleasant and relaxing  weekend.

Keep well. Stay home. Stay safe.

Team SimplePay

Upcoming ETI changes for the May EMP201

The Second Revised Draft Disaster Management Bill was issued by the National Treasury on 19 May 2020. Although the bill provided a large amount of clarity, there were still a few parts that were unclear, which we were only able to finalise early this week. The revised bill made several important changes to the Employment Tax Incentive Act, which provides for further tax relief in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The SimplePay team is hard at work implementing these changes to our system. If you are claiming ETI for May, please do not finalise or submit your EMP201s yet. We will ensure that these changes are made in time for the 7 June EMP201 submission deadline and we will keep you updated when these changes are live.

We are also seeking clarity on how, if at all, these changes will affect the EMP201 submissions made in April.

We hope that this information proves useful to you. If you have any queries on how the above relates to payroll and the SimplePay system, please feel free to get in touch with our customer support team at [email protected].

Team SimplePay

TERS Applications for May Open

We are extremely happy to announce that this morning the applications for the COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) for the month of May have opened! For all intents and purposes, the application process appears to be the same as that in place for the end of the April application period. This means that you can still use the SimplePay TERS CSV export, subject to the few tweaks mentioned below.

To apply, go to https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19 and log in if you already have an account, or register if you are applying for the first time.

You can then follow the application steps that are laid out on the site. An application guide, along with a post application guide, can be downloaded from the application site by clicking on:

 Application info > Application Procedure > Click Here to Download Files

On the TERS application website, linked above.

Key Changes for May

There have been some key announcements made that change the picture of what COVID-19 TERS process looks like. Some of the key changes are detailed below. There is also a nice overview available in the latest media release from the UIF.

Distribution of the TERS Benefits

The UIF has announced that it will no longer be requiring employers or bargaining councils to act as conduits for the disbursement of TERS benefits to employees. Instead, the UIF shall be paying employees directly into their bank accounts.

The intention behind this change to the system is that it will hopefully result in employees getting paid faster. Employers are still expected to apply on behalf of their employees and will receive a payment breakdown from the UIF as confirmation of payment.

The options for the UIF to pay money to employers and bargaining councils remains open. However, the UIF advises selecting payment directly into the employee’s account to expedite the payment of employees.

Proof of Payment for Employers returning to Make a Second Claim

According to the UIF, employers who have claimed TERS benefits in April and are wishing to make a repeat claim for May, will be expected to submit proof that  payment was made to their employees. In the above mentioned media statement, it was stated that an electronic bank statement or letter of acknowledgement between the employer and employee would suffice. 

Bargaining Councils Applying on Behalf of Employers

In the main part, it is likely that applications to TERS are to be done by the employer on behalf of their employee for COVID-19 TERS benefits.

Alternatively, if you have agreed with your bargaining council and the UIF that they shall apply for TERS benefits for your employees, this agreement should be adhered to.

If you are in any doubt of whether it is you or the bargaining council who should make an application for COVID-19 TERS, we would recommend that you clarify this on the UIF hotline, on 0800 030 007.

Eligibility for Applying to COVID-19 TERS

The eligibility for applying to COVID-19 TERS has been a large subject of discussion in the past for some of our clients. The latest amendments to the Directive in May altered the wording, clarifying if an employer is eligible or not to apply on behalf of their employees. 

The take home of this new wording is that any employer who closes operations, to any extent, needs to apply to TERS for its employees. 

SimplePay TERS CSV Export

There are a few minor but noteworthy changes regarding to the TERS CSV export which we would like to bring to your attention:

  1. Date range

As this is the application for May, the columns labelled “Shutdown From” and “Shutdown to” should be completed to accommodate this. These columns will be blank on the CSV, so you will need to input the correct dates.

There has been no official guidance published on the date range to input if your business reopened part way through May. Therefore, in such cases we would recommend that you contact the UIF hotline on 0800 030 007 to confirm the correct date range for your bespoke set of circumstances.

2. Column Titles

In order to bring the SimplePay CSV export titles in line with the UIF online application table, we have changed the “Leave Income During Shutdown” column to “Remuneration During shutdown”

This column aligns with the column labelled “Remuneration For Work Done Or Work To Be Done in May 2020 (excluding Leave Income or Payment In Advance)”, found on the online TERS application portal. 

Employee Applications for TERS Benefits

Employees are able to apply for TERS benefits in very limited circumstances under this latest version of the TERS process. For an employee to be eligible to apply the employer must have refused or been unable to apply for TERS benefits, as well as other criteria being met. By and large this is not a recommended option in almost all cases.

We hope that this information proves useful for you in carrying out this month’s TERS application. For more information on TERS and other COVID-19 related subject matter, you can visit our dedicated help page.

We would like to emphasise that for applications for April, one of the key causes of delay was incorrectly inputted information. Therefore we would like to stress the importance of double or even triple checking that the information is both accurate and in the correct format, to maximise the chances of a smooth process.

If you have any questions on the information provided above and how it relates to SimplePay, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].

Keep well. Stay home. Stay safe.

Team SimplePay

TERS: Foreign Workers Update

Update 27 May: the UIF has announced a delay in the opening of COVID-19 TERS applications for May due to a break in the communications link between the UIF’s office and the State Informations and Technology Agency (SITA). Read the media statement here

The following information is taken from a Q&A Webinar with the UIF, presented by the UIF’s Directors for provincial support and stakeholding.

As mentioned in our previous blog, linked here, it has become apparent that there are some issues for foreign employees in receiving their TERS benefits. We have now gained further information from the UIF on the most reliable way forward for UIF to process TERS applications for foreign employees, as we shall explain below.

The Likely Problem

Through the information garnered from the above mentioned webinar, as well as our own investigations, which included several phone calls with the UIF, it seems that the problem with these claims stemmed from a mismatch between the various systems used by the UIF to receive and process information. In order to validate if an employee is eligible for TERS benefits, the UIF needs to link the employee’s UIF contributions to the claim made. In the application process, this phase could have failed for a number of reasons, with some possibilities being:

  • The employer had registered for the payment of UIF with SARS, but not with the UIF itself.
    • In order to be compliant, employers need to ensure they submit their monthly declarations to the UIF, as well as make payment of UIF contributions to SARS when submitting their EMP201.
  • The UIF Reference numbers were inputted incorrectly.
  • An initial incorrect application for TERS was submitted and rejected, but the UIF reference numbers of the employees were captured. This means if a second application is made, it will automatically be rejected as the UIF numbers are already on the UIF Claims system (this is a safeguard put in place to avoid double payment).

To try and widen the resources from which to validate TERS applications, the UIF requested SARS cross check applications against their records of contributions to the UIF. In order for this step to be passed, the submitted application had to be a perfect match with respect to the UIF number, PAYE number and ID number on the SARS system, otherwise payment would not be processed. These increased validation measures resulted in fewer than expected applications being validated, in particular those by foreign employees.

Throughout the above processes, it is possible that the use of a passport number as opposed to 

a South African ID number was problematic. We have been informed by the UIF that for May applications, they believe that they have addressed the underlying cause(s) of the issues encountered with foreign employee’s TERS applications.

Suggested Way Forward

The latest from the Department of Labour and UIF is that for foreign workers, declarations should be made through uFiling to increase the probability of successful submissions. We appreciate that this is an added administrative load for you and does result in you needing to manually input information, in comparison to the SimplePay direct submission from our site. Nonetheless, the UIF recommends you record these foreign workers on uFiling for this period, as it will hopefully make the claim process faster.

You will continue to be able to submit your UIF declarations directly to the UIF on SimplePay for your foreign workers, as this is still an accepted method. This means that if you are not able to submit declarations via uFiling, your foreign employees’ declarations should still be sent successfully through SimplePay. The uncertainty comes in at the point where the UIF needs to match contributions to applications and this is apparently where using uFiling increases the likelihood of successful claims.

When registering or signing in on uFiling, it is possible that you will already have some or all of your foreign employees listed. If this is the case you must search for any omissions or errors in information. It is equally possible that none of the employees have been pulled through from the direct submission due to the strain put on uFiling over this period. If this is the case, please input the foreign employees in question.

When TERS applications for May do open, it is worth noting that the TERS CSV export from SimplePay will remain with the foreign employees listed. We are awaiting confirmation on when May applications will open and what the final process will be. We anticipate that you can continue to use our CSV but will confirm as soon as we know for sure. During the Q&A sessions the UIF representatives indicated that significant work has been done on the TERS system to resolve the issues experienced with claims for foreign employees. We sincerely hope that this is the case and that May’s applications will go far more smoothly for you.

If you are already registered, it is important that you check that your foreign employees are registered under your company, as this will then allow the employees to be matched to the TERS claim, thus triggering payment.

You can register or log into uFiling by clicking on the relevant link at https://www.ufiling.co.za/uif/.

It is possible that for May it will not be necessary to carry out this step as the UIF system will have been updated to accommodate foreign employees. However, having your foreign employees registered on uFiling still sounds like the most reliable way forward at this stage.

We hope that this information proves useful to you. If you have any queries on how the above relates to payroll and the SimplePay system, please feel free to get in touch with our customer support team at [email protected]

Keep well. Stay home. Stay safe.

Team SimplePay

New Functionality: Download Responses to Electronic UIF Submissions

In our blog on 18 May, we informed you that in addition to our email confirming UIF submissions, we had added new functionality where you could download your submitted file. We have enhanced this functionality further so that you can now also download the responses from the UIF.

To reiterate, whilst these files may not be useful for payroll administration purposes, they will provide records of the file submitted and the UIF responses.

To locate and download the files:

  1. Go to Filing
  2. Navigate to the relevant month
  3. Under the Electronic Status heading in the UIF Declaration section, the status should be “confirmed” (Note: the file is only available for successful submissions)
  4. Click on the icon next to “confirmed” to download the file

Please note: Should you need to open these files, you will need to rename the file to include “.csv” at the end (and remove the abbreviation for the current file format). This will allow you to view the file in Excel, Google Sheets or another spreadsheet application.

For more information about monthly submissions, head to our help page here.

If you require any assistance regarding this functionality, please do not hesitate to contact our support team.

Team SimplePay

Lockdown Recap Blog #5

Update 27 May: the UIF has announced a delay in the opening of COVID-19 TERS applications for May due to a break in the communications link between the UIF’s office and the State Informations and Technology Agency (SITA). Read the media statement here

Update 25 May: As mentioned in previous blogs, such as the Employment Tax Validation blog, SDL contributions for the months of May to August 2020 have been set to zero in line with the legislation. This will be reflected on your EMP201s and you do not need to do anything on your end.

After having a week off last Friday, we’re back to business with the consolidatory blog for the past fortnight! Without further ado, let’s get straight into what’s been covered this week.

This Week’s Blogs

As per every week, here’s the list and summary of this week’s blogs, just in case you missed them!

Annual Employer Reconciliation Period Deadline blog contents:

  • Extended deadline remains 31 May
  • Information on individual tax returns

Repo Rate Change blog contents:

  • New rate of interest cut by 50 basis points

TERS for Foreign Employees and OID Comp Return of Earnings blog contents:

  • Steps to follow to receive TERS Benefits for foreign employees
  • OID Comp Return of Earnings, delayed deadline
  • Relief measures to support employers with respect to their Return of Earnings

Submitted Files for UIF Declaration Now Available blog contents:

  • UI-19 declarations submitted through SimplePay can now be downloaded for personal records
  • Information how to open the file in spreadsheet format

UIF Submissions Update: 18/05/2020 blog contents:

  • Update on the turnaround times for UIF submissions, as well as the amount of backdating
  • Link to original update blog on 14 May.

COVID-19 TERS Update blog contents:

  • Department of Labour’s post application support document for employers who applied for TERS benefits and are looking for further guidance
  • A note for employers who are wanting to apply for TERS in May

New SARS Codes and System Item for Disaster Relief Funds blog contents:

  • Tax Treatment of disaster relief payments
  • New “COVID-19 Disaster Relief” system item on SimplePay

Employment Tax Validation Process blog contents:

  • Summary of the tax validation process
  • Process to follow for over and under deductions
  • News on SDL payment holiday
  • News on the expansion of parental leave benefits

Take-Home Highlights

Employer Annual Reconciliation Period

As mentioned in our blog published earlier today, the deadline for IRP5/IT3(a)s is 31 May, in a little over a week’s time.

We have made all the necessary changes to our system, so all that is left to do is to ensure you get your returns submitted on time!

COVID-19 TERS

It has come to the point where no blog really feels complete without a nod to COVID-19 TERS.

The situation as it stands with TERS is that applications for May have still not opened. We are periodically checking the UIF website for a change (https://uifecc.labour.gov.za/covid19/), but so far to no avail.

Hopefully the application downtime is being used wisely, whereafter a streamlined process will emerge for the remainder of the scheme.

In the meantime we are all at the mercy of Government timelines and process; unfortunately we have no insight into or influence on these, but will do our best to keep you informed as and when we know more.

We hope that this information proves useful to you. If you have any queries on how the above relates to payroll and the SimplePay system, please feel free to get in touch with our customer support team at [email protected]

Keep well. Stay home. Stay safe.

Team SimplePay

Annual Employer Reconciliation Period Deadline

With 31 May just around the corner, this blog is a friendly reminder that the Annual Employer Reconciliation Period deadline is fast approaching. As mentioned in our blog on 8 May, all the necessary changes were made to the SimplePay site at the start of this month, so all that is left is to jump in and complete your IRP5/IT3(a)s!

As mentioned in this previous blog, SARS has rolled out the Employer Tax Validation system for the first time, which will cross-check SARS calculated value for the SDL and PAYE amounts, with those submitted.

Despite the pandemic, SARS has made it clear that it will not be altering its policy on late submissions, meaning that if you do submit late, you could be subject to penalties of up to 10% the value of the payroll.

We hope that this information proves useful to you. If you have any queries on how the above relates to payroll and the SimplePay system, please feel free to get in touch with our customer support team at [email protected]

Keep well. Stay home. Stay safe.

TeamSimplePay

P.S. Individual Tax Returns: 

SARS has announced a delay in the deadline for Individual Tax Returns (ITR-12s) from its normal place in July, to September 2020. The online filing period for individuals in 2020 will prospectively run between 1 September and 16 November 2020.

Interest Rate Change for Employer Loans

In an effort to manage the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on the economy, the Reserve Bank has announced a further historic cut to the repurchase rate (repo rate). The repo rate will be cut by 50 basis points, from 4.25% to 3.75%, effective 22 May 2020.

The change in repo rate impacts the “official rate” used to calculate the fringe benefit on employer loans. The official rate is set at an interest rate of 100 basis points above the repo rate and any changes in the repo rate will only affect the official rate from the beginning of the next month. The official interest rate for employer loans will therefore change from 5.25% to 4.75% effective 1 June.

As always, you do not need to take any action to implement the new interest rate. We have already updated the system to reflect these changes. All employer loans on payslips dated from 1 June 2020 will make use of the new interest rate. As our system is built to be intuitive, any payslips dated before 1 June 2020 will make use of the previous interest rate.

You can find more information on employer loans on our help page here.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our support team.

Team SimplePay

TERS for Foreign Employees and OID Comp Return of Earnings

The blog today has an update for you on the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) relief, and its annual return of earnings. Additionally, we have received a clarification for employers who applied to COVID-19 TERS for their foreign workers.

Foreign Workers: COVID-19 TERS

It has become apparent that foreign employees who have been enrolled for the Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) have had their applications rejected. This appears to be due to the TERS system not being able to recognise passport numbers. If this is the case for you and your foreign employees have not received payment, you must simply submit proof to the UIF of the employee’s contributions to UIF, where they shall then process the payments on their side.

For each foreign employee who has not been counted in the scheme, you need to send:

  1. The employee’s UI 19 Form (Information on where to find this can be found on our help site page, linked here).
  2. The consolidated UI 19 Form, submitted monthly by the employer.
  3. Proof of payroll for the period between January to March 2020. This could be met by the UI 19 form mentioned in point 2, but to be safe we would recommend payslips for the employee also.

All of the above information needs to be sent to [email protected].

Return of Earnings Submission Deadline

In our previous blog on 11 March, we informed you that the deadline for completing your Return of Earnings, or W.As.8, was pushed back from 31 March to 31 May. We can now inform you that this date has been pushed back further still to 30 June 2020.

Relief Measures in Light of COVID-19

To help lessen the financial burden on employers during this period of economic uncertainty, and to encourage compliance with COIDA, the Compensation Fund has announced the following measures:

1. Normally, late payment of assessment results in penalties and interest accruing until the amount is settled. The Compensation Fund has announced an exemption from penalties and interest for a 6 month period, between 29 April and 30 September 2020. 

Note: This does not alter any amounts due, it merely exempts employers from penalties and interest for overdue payments of assessment for the period.

2. For employers partaking in an instalments arrangement, the standard requirement of an upfront 20% deposit has been lifted.

If you wish to partake in an instalment arrangement, you can do this by sending a request to [email protected]

We hope that this information proves useful to you. If you have any queries on how the above relates to payroll and the SimplePay system, please feel free to get in touch with our customer support team at [email protected].

Keep well. Stay home. Stay safe.

Team SimplePay