Answer to a question from a reader

Do I qualify for UIF TERS if I was temporarily laid off because of the lockdown?

The short answer

You should have qualified for the previous TERS extension but the new TERS only applies to certain employees.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I was temporarily laid off from January to March because my company couldn't trade fully due to lockdown restrictions. I also was not able to work from 1 February to 31 July 2021 although I was still contributing to UIF. Do I qualify for UIF TERS?

The long answer

The period for the previous TERS extension was from 16 October 2020 to 15 March 2021. This was broken up into two periods: 

• 16 October until 31 December 2020, and

• 1 January until 15 March 2021

So it looks like you should have been covered for the period of January 2021 till 15 March 2021.

Now there is a new claim period for TERS, which was extended for certain employees from 16 March 2021 to 25 July 2021. Applications for the extended TERS benefit opened on 19 July 2021 and payments were due to start on 26 July 2021. 

What was different in the latest Directive was that, although employers were still expected to apply for the TERS for their qualifying employees, the TERS benefit payments would be made directly to employees’ bank accounts rather than to their employers. Employers had to provide the correct details for their employees, including ID numbers and valid bank accounts. This was to bypass dishonest employers who did not pay the benefits over to their employees.

The Directive states that if there is good cause and if the UI Commissioner or a delegated official agrees, the UIF can permit payment of the TERS directly to employers who paid their employees in advance. The employer had to make an employee declaration return to the UIF confirming loss of income and inability to make alternative arrangements for the affected employees.

The sectors identified in the Directive for the extended TERS benefits included venues for professional sports, auctions, cinemas, museums, theatres, social events and live performances (Annexure A of the Directive) as well as restaurants, the liquor industry, hospitality, tourism and the businesses that form part of those value chains (Annexure B).

The Directive said that the following categories of employees qualified for the TERS benefit in terms of the latest TERS extension:

  • Employees whose employers fall within the sector specified in Annexure A to the Directive who were not permitted to commence operations (either partially or in full) from 16 March 2021 to 25 July 2021 due to Level 1, 2 and 3 restrictions preventing gatherings of a certain number of people;

  • Employees who were and or are still impacted by the Adjusted Level 4 restrictions, which commenced on 28 June 2021 (and fall within the sectors outlined in Annexure B to the Directive);

  • Vulnerable employees who have not been able to be accommodated or work during the question (irrespective of whether their employers operate in a sector specified in Annexure A or B);

  • Employees whose employers operate in a sector specified in Annexure A or B who were unable to make use of their services fully or partially due to operational requirements caused by compliance with the Disaster Management Regulations; and 

  • Employees who have had to isolate or go into quarantine, irrespective of whether their employers fall within sectors in Annexure A or B.

So you would have to judge whether your employment falls into any of those sectors. But even if your employer doesn’t operate in the sectors set out in Annexure A or B, if you were affected by short time, temporary layoff, etc., and he couldn’t make use of your services partially or completely because of the Disaster Management Regulations, you are still entitled to the UIF’s Reduced Work Time benefit under (section 12 (1B) of the UI Act. Your employer must claim on your behalf. 

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Sept. 10, 2021, 10:08 a.m.

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