Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa and subsequent lockdown, many businesses have been adversely affected and are struggling to cover their expenses.
A large concern for the government is the paying of employee salaries during this period as prolonged non-payment of these can cause serious lasting harm to the economy of South Africa and the community at large.
What is TERS
The COVID-19 Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) is an initiative of government which is aimed at providing support to businesses that are in distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a company has their application approved, the UIF will fund companies which are directly affected by COVID-19 in the form of a TERS allowance.
For purposes of this calculation, the relevant salary amount is the maximum of ZAR 17 712 per month, per employee. Therefore:
- If an employee’s salary is more than the maximum threshold amount of ZAR 17 712 – for example, ZAR 20 000 – the employee would not receive a percentage of ZAR 20 000, but would receive 38% of the threshold amount of ZAR 17 712. The maximum amount of the COVID-19 TERS monthly payment will therefore be the amount of ZAR 6 730.
- If an employee’s salary is less than the threshold amount – for example ZAR 15 000 – the employee would receive a percentage of her/ his salary of ZAR 15 000. The exact percentage that s/he would receive will be determined in accordance with the UIF calculator.
The minimum amount of the benefit is ZAR 3 500 regardless of the minimum wage as prescribed by the applicable sectoral determination/ collective agreement.
Employers may supplement these benefits, but employees may not get their full salary PLUS the benefit. The maximum that an employee may accordingly receive (from the UIF and their employer) is 100% of her/ his salary.
Aside from the ‘initial’ period of application, TERS was extended for a Phase 2 in 2021.
Under the first initial application of the TERS initiative, the UIF will pay benefit funds in relation to three separate time periods:
- first for the period of temporary closure for 30 days from the date of lockdown;
- second for any period of temporary closure during the following 30 days; and
- third, for any period of temporary closure during the balance of the Memorandum of Agreement.
(The Agreement is in force for three months from the date of confirmation by the UIF that it accepts the employer’s COVID-19 TERS application)
One of the initiatives announced during the 2021 State of the Nation address was the extension of COVID-19 TERS from 16 October 2020 to 15 March 2021.
This ‘Phase 2’ of the relief scheme is split into two payment iterations which will focus on claims based on loss of income during two periods.
- The first period is between 16 October to 31 December 2020; and
- The second period is between 1 January to 15 March 2021.
The two claim periods are being dealt with separately and any employer may currently only claim benefits, on behalf of affected employees for the listed categories, for the first period being 16 October to 31 December 2020.
The second period of phase 2 will be dealt with at a later stage and the UIF will communicate the opening of the online portal for this in future.
Who Qualifies for Relief?
The requirements for phase 1 and phase 2 of the TERS initiative are quite different –
Under the first phase of TERS applications, the following criteria applies:
- Registered with the UIF;
- Have not been able to work normally – The employer must have closed its operations, or part of its operations, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, for a period of three months or less; and
- Employed and Suffered Loss of Income – The employee must have been in the employer’s employ on 27 March 2020, and must have suffered, or will suffer, a loss of income as a result of the closure.
The criteria for phase 2 are much more restrictive and are discussed in full detail here.
In short, in order to claim under Phase 2 of TERS an employee must fall into one of the specified Claim Codes:
- Claim Code 1 Employees on temporary lay-off or Reduced Work Time within those sectors that have not been able to operate due to regulatory restrictions as per directives issued;
- Claim Code 2 Employees aged 60 and above, and who cannot be reasonably accommodated at work;
- Claim Code 3 Employees with co-morbidities and who cannot be reasonably accommodated at work; or
- Claim Code 4 Employees in isolation and quarantine to prevent the spread of Covid19.
In addition to qualification in terms of one of the above categories, the employee UIF contributor status will be verified.
Disputes and Queries
The UIF have requested that all disputes and queries relating to COVID-19 TERS be dealt with via the call centre line ONLY, which is: 0800 030 007.
For more information on this and related topics please see the following pages:
We also have a series of blog posts on various aspects of COVID-19 TERS and the application process, which can be found on our blog: SimplePay Blog.