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CWAO and COVID-19 Worker Rights

 

The Law says bosses must apply for TERS to pay workers who lose wages during lockdown

18 April 2020

 

The purpose of the Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS)

The TERS was set up by the government and the UIF to support workers who lose income during the lockdown. The scheme says bosses must apply to the UIF to pay workers their lost income.

Which workers qualify for a TERS benefit?

The scheme says workers who have been lost wages because of the coronavirus must get a benefit. In other words, workers who have been laid off as well as workers that have been put on short time qualify.

Only workers who have contributed to the UIF will qualify for the TERS benefit. Workers who have not contributed to UIF will not get money from TERS, even if it is their employer’s fault that they were not registered.

Will workers from only partially shutdown companies also qualify?

A company that lays off only some of its workers but continues to operate must claim for the workers who were laid off.

Will workers who are now going back to work still qualify for the lost wages?

Workers who are now going back to work but lost wages during the early part of the lockdown still qualify to get back the wages they lost. Workers that go back to work on short time under level 4 can qualify for TERS payments on top of the wages that they earn for the month.

What about workers who were forced to take annual leave?

Workers who were forced to take paid leave at the start of the lockdown must get back their leave. Their boss can apply to the scheme to get back the money paid to workers, but only if the workers have their annual given back to them too.

‘No work no pay’

Bosses who forced workers to take unpaid leave must now apply to the scheme and pay workers for the wages they have lost since the lockdown.

How much will workers be paid from the TERS and for how long?

Workers can get between R3500 and R6730 per month from the TERS, depending on how much they normally earn. The regulations do not say that workers must first work a certain number of hours before they qualify for the R3500 minimum. Even workers with flexible hours must be paid this minimum.

TERS allows bosses to top up workers’ wages so that they earn their normal monthly or weekly wages. Workers can get TERS money for up to 3 months, depending on how long the lock down lasts.

Who must claim from TERS, workers or bosses?

TERS says bosses must claim the money from the TERS and then pay workers, although the TERS ‘urges’ bosses to pay workers first and then claim the money back. Workers do not have to fill in any forms to get TERS money

Workers falling under bargaining councils

Some bargaining councils have made agreements to pay workers the TERS UIF grant. All bosses whose workers fall under a bargaining council must claim through the bargaining council. Workers will then be paid out by that bargaining council.

TERS Illness benefit

A worker who self-isolates because they show symptoms of COVID must be put on paid sick leave. No medical certificate is needed. If the worker runs out of sick leave then the employer must apply for a TERS Illness Benefit on behalf of the worker.

Compensation for workers that test positive

If a worker tests positive for Covid-19 and if it is likely that the worker contracted the virus at work, then the employer must put in a COIDA compensation claim for the worker.

Will claiming a TERS benefit affect workers UIF benefits?

The Covid-19 TERS money paid to workers will not come from their normal UIF benefits.

Report your employer
Report your employer if they refuse to claim for your lost wages or the leave you were forced to take. Report your employer to a Department of Labour provincial inspector:

Eastern Cape 082 908 2318
Free State 066 304 3469
Gauteng 082 900 8131
KZN 060 985 9286
Mpumalanga 081 382 4008
Limpopo 082 880 4297
Northern Cape 082 802 6796
North West 082 908 2308
Western Cape 082 791 4485

Contact CWAO for more advice

Please feel free to download this article as a pamphlet for distribution

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