There is a general consensus that many people are in disbelief regarding the reality and impact of SARS-CoV-2. Why some people do not think the novel coronavirus disease is serious – and may be avoiding medical advice – is unclear at the moment. Whether it is plain ignorance, fear, a belief that they are invincible or immune, denial, conspiracy theories, or other reasons, many continue to refuse to wear protective gear or comply with social distancing regulations.

People continue to discount the risk of SARS-CoV-2 even as new and credible information from sources like the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other medical experts warns us to be very concerned and on high alert. Large-scale social distancing continues to be our best option to slow the spread and limit the worst possible outcomes.

Some people see the lockdown period as a paid holiday. The Minister of Employment and Labour has recently announced measures that the department will put in place under the current special circumstance relating to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its impact on UIF contributors.

Therefore, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Commissioner, after consultation with the UIF executive and the board, developed the COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (COVID-19 TERS) to contribute to the containment of the pandemic.

To mitigate the impact of the 21-day national lockdown on workers, business and the economy, the UIF will be electronically processing applications for the Covid-19 TERS benefit. Caring and responsible employers, who are unable to afford the full salaries of the workers they are sent home for their health and safety due to the lockdown, are encouraged to apply for the Covid-19 TERS benefit from the UIF by sending an email to:

Upon sending the email, applicants will receive an automated reply which outlines all the steps and details, including the requirements to claim benefits. During the lockdown period, manual claims will not be accepted to reduce contact between people to curtail the spread of the pandemic.

The UIF commissioner has stated that the UIF is ready to assist affected workers and companies. Submitting a fraudulent claim is a criminal act that will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Covid-19 TERS benefit is not associated with the other UIF benefits and processes, however, applications are subject to normal verification and validation processes of the fund. UIF has created a special hotline number: 012 337 1997 for Covid–19 TERS benefit enquiries during the lockdown period.

Workers, companies and stakeholders are urged to follow the Department of Employment and Labour and the Unemployment Insurance Fund on Twitter. You can also visit the labour department’s website for regular updates.

To view our updates on the coronavirus, check out our Newsletters page.