TERS: Foreign Workers Update

Update 27 May: the UIF has announced a delay in the opening of COVID-19 TERS applications for May due to a break in the communications link between the UIF’s office and the State Informations and Technology Agency (SITA). Read the media statement here

The following information is taken from a Q&A Webinar with the UIF, presented by the UIF’s Directors for provincial support and stakeholding.

As mentioned in our previous blog, linked here, it has become apparent that there are some issues for foreign employees in receiving their TERS benefits. We have now gained further information from the UIF on the most reliable way forward for UIF to process TERS applications for foreign employees, as we shall explain below.

The Likely Problem

Through the information garnered from the above mentioned webinar, as well as our own investigations, which included several phone calls with the UIF, it seems that the problem with these claims stemmed from a mismatch between the various systems used by the UIF to receive and process information. In order to validate if an employee is eligible for TERS benefits, the UIF needs to link the employee’s UIF contributions to the claim made. In the application process, this phase could have failed for a number of reasons, with some possibilities being:

  • The employer had registered for the payment of UIF with SARS, but not with the UIF itself.
    • In order to be compliant, employers need to ensure they submit their monthly declarations to the UIF, as well as make payment of UIF contributions to SARS when submitting their EMP201.
  • The UIF Reference numbers were inputted incorrectly.
  • An initial incorrect application for TERS was submitted and rejected, but the UIF reference numbers of the employees were captured. This means if a second application is made, it will automatically be rejected as the UIF numbers are already on the UIF Claims system (this is a safeguard put in place to avoid double payment).

To try and widen the resources from which to validate TERS applications, the UIF requested SARS cross check applications against their records of contributions to the UIF. In order for this step to be passed, the submitted application had to be a perfect match with respect to the UIF number, PAYE number and ID number on the SARS system, otherwise payment would not be processed. These increased validation measures resulted in fewer than expected applications being validated, in particular those by foreign employees.

Throughout the above processes, it is possible that the use of a passport number as opposed to 

a South African ID number was problematic. We have been informed by the UIF that for May applications, they believe that they have addressed the underlying cause(s) of the issues encountered with foreign employee’s TERS applications.

Suggested Way Forward

The latest from the Department of Labour and UIF is that for foreign workers, declarations should be made through uFiling to increase the probability of successful submissions. We appreciate that this is an added administrative load for you and does result in you needing to manually input information, in comparison to the SimplePay direct submission from our site. Nonetheless, the UIF recommends you record these foreign workers on uFiling for this period, as it will hopefully make the claim process faster.

You will continue to be able to submit your UIF declarations directly to the UIF on SimplePay for your foreign workers, as this is still an accepted method. This means that if you are not able to submit declarations via uFiling, your foreign employees’ declarations should still be sent successfully through SimplePay. The uncertainty comes in at the point where the UIF needs to match contributions to applications and this is apparently where using uFiling increases the likelihood of successful claims.

When registering or signing in on uFiling, it is possible that you will already have some or all of your foreign employees listed. If this is the case you must search for any omissions or errors in information. It is equally possible that none of the employees have been pulled through from the direct submission due to the strain put on uFiling over this period. If this is the case, please input the foreign employees in question.

When TERS applications for May do open, it is worth noting that the TERS CSV export from SimplePay will remain with the foreign employees listed. We are awaiting confirmation on when May applications will open and what the final process will be. We anticipate that you can continue to use our CSV but will confirm as soon as we know for sure. During the Q&A sessions the UIF representatives indicated that significant work has been done on the TERS system to resolve the issues experienced with claims for foreign employees. We sincerely hope that this is the case and that May’s applications will go far more smoothly for you.

If you are already registered, it is important that you check that your foreign employees are registered under your company, as this will then allow the employees to be matched to the TERS claim, thus triggering payment.

You can register or log into uFiling by clicking on the relevant link at https://www.ufiling.co.za/uif/.

It is possible that for May it will not be necessary to carry out this step as the UIF system will have been updated to accommodate foreign employees. However, having your foreign employees registered on uFiling still sounds like the most reliable way forward at this stage.

We hope that this information proves useful to you. If you have any queries on how the above relates to payroll and the SimplePay system, please feel free to get in touch with our customer support team at [email protected]

Keep well. Stay home. Stay safe.

Team SimplePay