Answer to a question from a reader

What can I do about suspected TERS fraud?

The short answer

It is possible that there was a miscalculation. You should contact the UIF immediately.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

Based on the UIF Covid-19 TERS payments that I received between October and December 2020, I suspect that my company has been defrauding me. The amount calculated by the UIF as shown on the TERS portal says I am owed R12,453.98 but I only received R2,423.54 from my employer. I had been receiving a salary of R4,000 for working short-time since August 2020. How can I report this matter?

The long answer

Perhaps we should first take a look at how the TERS payment is calculated: it is calculated using the usual UIF formula based on your usual monthly salary. The UIF looks at the dates of lockdown entered when the application is made and how much income you lost during the period, to work out how much the TERS benefit must be. The TERS benefit is not supposed to be used by employers to pay salaries, but is to compensate workers for income lost due to being unable to work or working short time during the various lockdown periods.

The TERS payment plus what was paid for the hours you worked cannot be more than your usual monthly salary, and will not be less than R3,500 a month. If the benefit plus the pay for the hours worked is higher than your usual monthly salary, the employer has to calculate the overpayment by UIF and refund it to the UIF.

If any of the information provided to the UIF was inaccurate – for example, if you ended up working more hours than was planned originally – the calculation would not be correct. The employer would then be responsible for paying you what was owed to you and refunding the rest to the UIF.   

You are entitled to ask your employer for an explanation of the higher amount reflected on the portal compared to what you received.

For people who earn higher salaries, the TERS benefit is capped at R17,712 per month which works out at R221.28 per day (amounting to R6,730 per month). The TERS website gives the following example to illustrate how this works:

“If an employee’s ordinary salary is R20,000 then the UIF sliding scale is R6,800 (based on the R17,712 ceiling). If the remuneration earned by the employee is R15,000, then the benefit is R5,000 (because the total of the remuneration earned plus the sliding scale benefit will be more than the employee’s ordinary remuneration).”

But having gone through all of the above, it is true that there has been a great deal of fraud around TERS payments and many allegations of employers pocketing TERS benefits that were intended for their employees.

You can report suspected fraud and theft here:

The ordinary TERS number for querying information is 0800 030 007.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Aug. 2, 2021, noon

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