The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Bill was one of the 10 bills that President Jacob Zuma signed into law last week Thursday, thus now making it an Act.
According to Chief of Labour relations, Thembinkosi Mkalipi, the Act will reportedly ensure that people who lose their jobs receive money for twelve months as opposed to six months as in the previous provision.
The new law will also allow for contract workers as well as public servants to contribute to the UIF, however, conditions on claims are dependent on the number of months or years in employment. He says “The Act doesn’t specify that ‘you need this many credits’ but obviously, the Act works out how many days you must have stayed in order for you to be able to claim. If you have worked one month or two weeks and then want to claim unemployment benefits, you are unlikely to get anything – it’s not worth it. You’ve got to at least have worked a year before you can see something being paid. The longer you contributed, the far better it will be.”
In addition, Mkalipi adds, the new law will also ensure that workers that qualify for maternity benefits will receive an increased maternity leave benefit of up to 66%, as opposed to the previous 54%.
Additionally, the new law also prohibits the charging of fees by any party to an Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) claimant.
Mkalipi adds that this is to avoid a situation where a fee reduces the size of the benefit that an employee should receive.
Also, it will allow for nominated beneficiaries of a deceased claimant to receive the deceased’s benefits. However, in cases where a minor child is involved, preference will be given to that child and conditions pertaining to the granting of these benefits will be assessed by a board of the fund.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions’ spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, has welcomed the new Act, adding that talks between the Department of Labour and other stakeholders will be in place to address how to streamline the process by possibly providing more jobs, not only at the Department of Labour but also at the Unemployment Insurance Offices, including labour offices, among others, to ensure that lawful practices are followed and queues and waiting times for those seeking help are reduced.