COVID-19 Lockdown – 27 March to 16 April 2020

Please note: The information provided in this blog is correct at the time of writing, but as this is an unprecedented and ever-changing situation, we will do our best to ensure we keep ourselves and our clients up to date. Please check back regularly for updates – we will also notify you of these by email and system notifications.

A Note on UIF Forms: Our existing functionality allows you to submit the monthly consolidated UI-19 for all employees each month directly to the UIF from the Simplepay website. We’re currently working on new functionality that will provide UI-19 forms for individuals. This is needed needed for employees to claim.

30 March 2020: Information on the option for employers to complete the UIF application on behalf of their employees. Further UIF code 10 is unpacked, related to employees who fall ill.

27 March 2020: 

  • Greater detail on the process required to submit both types of UIF applications has been added, including who is responsible for each part of the process.
  • More information on what is required when handling employees with reduced hours, to enable them to claim a benefit.
  • Clarification on the different codes required when ending your employee’s service in different situations.
  • Brief update on the progress of TERS at the foot of the blog.

26 March 2020: Updated the requirements for form UI 2.8 to be accompanied by a bank statement, stamped by the bank.

On Monday 23 March, President Ramaphosa announced a 21 day lockdown from 23:59 on Thursday 26 March. Many South Africans welcomed this but are also uncertain as to what this means for their employees and businesses. Over the past few days, the respective Governmental Departments have released information regarding plans to support companies and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The aim of this blog is to provide guidance to employers on the options available to them around paying employees, putting them on paid and unpaid leave and UIF benefits.

Earlier in the week we let you know that our team has gone fully remote and are pleased to be able to support our clients and employees in this way. In some sectors, this mode of working can be adopted relatively easily and many have already done so; however, for a lot of sectors and employees this is unfortunately not an option. For those employers who have to scale back or suspend regular activities, the following options exist:

Options for Healthy Employees Impacted by Reduced Hours or Temporary Closure 

Where employees are healthy and able to work, but are prevented from doing so due to the lockdown, employers and employees can agree that annual leave be used to cover some or all of the lockdown period on full pay. You are also always able to extend extra paid leave days to all employees should you so wish.

Where none of the paid leave types are an option, employees can be put on unpaid leave. Employees impacted in this way are able to claim Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits as a result of either reduced hours or closure. To do this on SimplePay, you will need to provide a code when ending your employee’s service. Please use code 17 for temporary closure or reduced hours, i.e use this code if employees are expected to return to work on 17 April 2020. It is important to note that you must end the employee’s service on SimplePay. If you simply record unpaid leave on the calendar, UIF will not be claimable by employees.

The government intends to extend UIF benefits for these employees for up to three months. Employees who receive no income will be entitled to full UIF benefits.

If you’re paying your employees reduced pay, a partial UIF benefit will be available. For this benefit to be available, there must be an agreement between the employer and their employees to reduce hours as an alternative to retrenchment.

Procedure for Healthy Employees Impacted by Reduced Hours or Temporary Closure to Claim UIF benefits

To claim UIF for a reduction in hours or temporary closure, the following must be completed:

  1. Contact and inform the relevant provincial department representative of your temporary closure/reduction in hours. The contact details for each of the offices can be found on page 3 of the Easy Aid Guide for Employers.
  2. The following forms and documents need to be completed for each employee:
    1. UI 2.1 (application form)
    2. UI19 (Submitted monthly by the employer) and UI 2.7 (completed by Employer)
    3. UI 2.8 (accompanied by a bank statement, stamped by the bank)
    4. A letter from the Employer confirming company shutdown or employee’s “temporary lay-off” ( or reduced work time ) is due to the Corona Virus 
    5. Copy of Employee’s ID document
  3. Once completed, these forms need to be transferred to the employee to submit the claim. Claims can be done at the nearest labour office, online once the employee has registered, or via email or fax, details listed on page 7 of the Easy Aid Guide. If an employer wishes to do this on behalf of their employee, provided they have all the necessary information, this is possible by emailing the relevant processing centre with the required documents. ( n.b. Form UI2.8 could prove difficult for the employer to obtain now that lockdown is in force).
  4. To ensure the employee can claim, the must ensure they have:
    • A copy of 13-digit bar-coded identity document
    • A copy of your last six payslips
    • UI-19 supplied by your employer
    • A service certificate from the employer (point 2.4, provided by the employer)
    • Proof of registration as a work seeker
    • A fully completed registration form

This may appear a daunting number of forms, but it is worth noting that the provincial departments, listed in the Easy Aid Guide, will provide the necessary assistance with the application and payment of this benefit type. SimplePay is also in the process of making these forms available through our system, lessening the burden on you and reducing the chance of human error.

Additionally, if your business employs 50 or more employees, who may be subject to temporary lay offs, rapid response teams have been formed to aid you with this process. In respect to this you need to get into contact with your provincial office, as listed in the Easy Aid Guide.

Options for Employees who are suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19

The requirement that an employee suspected of, or is diagnosed with COVID-19, must self isolate for 14 days remains in place. This period can be covered using an employee’s sick leave as with any other instance of illness. If the employee has no sick leave, you can agree to have them use annual leave otherwise they may be placed on unpaid leave. As above, the option to grant additional paid leave is also available. For all of these, record leave on SimplePay as usual.

Where the employee has had to be placed on unpaid leave as a result of contracting COVID-19, the following options to receive some income exist:

  1. Apply for an illness benefit through UIF 
    1. This covers the 14 day isolation and requires several documents, including a letter of agreement signed by employer and employee. 
    2. This period can be extended if required. 
    3. Full details on documents required and the application process can be found at the end of this post.
  2. Apply for compensation for Occupationally Acquired COVID-19 Disease, through the recently amended Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA)
    1. This is available if the employee contracted COVID-19 in their place of work or on a business trip to another country or area.
    2. More details can be found in this Government Notice and the process to claim is outlined at the end of this post.

Procedure for Employees who are Suspected or Diagnosed with COVID-19 to Claim UIF benefits

To claim UIF for an illness benefit, the following must be completed:

  1. Fill in the following forms:
    1. A confirmation letter from both the employer and employee, stating that they have agreed to 14 days of “special leave”, due to COVID-19.
    2. UI 2.2 (medical portion to be ignored, as this is substituted by the above letter. This is because the employee will already be in quarantine).
    3. UI 19 (which can be completed through SimplePay) and UI 2.7 (completed by Employer)
    4. UI 2.8 (accompanied by a bank statement, stamped by the bank)
    5. Copy of employee’s ID document.
  2. On SimplePay, when completing the employee’s End Service, please use UIF code 10 – Illness leave.
  3. Once completed, these forms need to be transferred to the employee, who must then submit the claim. An application can be lodged in one of the following ways:
    1. Online at www.ufiling.co.za 
    2. Email or fax the nearest UIF processing centre. (information found on page 7 of this link). If an employer wishes to do this on behalf of their employee, provided they have all the necessary information, this is possible by emailing the relevant processing centre with the required documents. ( n.b. Form UI2.8 could prove difficult for the employer to obtain now that lockdown is in force).
  4. To ensure the employee can claim, alongside the other documents they must ensure they have:
    • A copy of 13-digit bar-coded identity document
    • A copy of your last six payslips
    • A service certificate from the employer
    • A fully completed registration form

Unlike temporary closure, there is no bespoke assistance for the filing of this application. It is likely though that there are fewer employees that qualify for this benefit, lessening the administrative load. If you do experience any difficulties, we would encourage you to touch base with your nearest UIF processing centre for guidance.

At the end of the 14 day period a UI3 form needs to be completed, for the payment to be executed into the employee’s bank account. This should either be done on the ufiling website, or by emailing or faxing your closest UIF Processing centre, as listed in the aid guide. If the employee remains ill beyond the 14 day period, they must obtain a medical certificate from a medical practitioner and submit a further UI3 in order to be able to continue to claim the benefit.

Options for Healthy Employees Impacted by a Permanent Closure  of Business

Unfortunately, in some cases the strains on your business may be too great, resulting in your company ceasing to operate permanently. If this is true for yourself, you should use code 14, denoting permanent closures, i.e use this code if, upon the completion of the 21-day lockdown, the employee shall not continue their employment. Same as for the temporary closure process above, you must end the employee’s service on SimplePay in order for the employee to be able to claim UIF.

In this scenario, the normal process for claiming UIF will likely need to be followed. Therefore, the 3 months extended period of UIF benefit will probably not be applicable.

Procedure for Claiming under COIDA

There are a few key components to being able to claim under this system. The following are required elements:

  • The employee must test positive for the COVID-19 virus (as defined in COIDA).
  • The contraction of the virus must arise out of and happen in the course of employment.
  • There must be a realistic and logical explanation for the exposure to COVID-19, which occurred in the course of employment.

If the above statements apply to an employee, they could be entitled to claim under COIDA. More detail on the requirements can be found here

WATCH THIS SPACE: Temporary Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) and other Relief Measures for Employers

In an effort to avoid retrenchment, the Government is also in consultation to pay wages of employees in struggling companies through the Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme. To gain an insight into the sheme, the process required to participate and to see some templates of the required forms, please send an email to “[email protected]”. You will receive an automated response with all this information. We will also be providing more information on this and other relief measures in our next blog post next week.

As always, we’re here to help where we can. Please feel free to get in touch if you need help with any of the above on SimplePay.

Team SimplePay


Interest Rate Change for Employer Loans

The South African Reserve Bank has decided to decrease the repurchase rate (repo rate) by 100 basis points, effective from 20 March 2020.

The official interest rate used for calculating the fringe benefit on low or interest free loans to employees is set as 100 basis points above the repo rate. This means that the interest rate used for calculating the fringe benefit on employer loans decreases from 7.25% to 6.25%, effective 20 March 2020.

If you’re a SimplePay user, you do not need to take any action to implement the new interest rate, as we have already updated our system to reflect these changes. Therefore, all payslips dated and finalised from 20 March onwards will use the new interest rate. If a payslip dated after 20 March was finalised before the 20 March (i.e. it was finalised in advance), you will need to unfinalise the payslip and then finalise it again for the changes to take effect. As we have built our system to be intuitive, the previous interest rate will be used if you are still preparing payslips dated before the 20 March, regardless of what date you physically finalise the payslip.

If you are unsure of how to capture employee loans or calculate the fringe benefit on them, refer to our help page here.

Team SimplePay

2020 OID / Workman’s Comp Update

It’s that time of the year again – when you have to complete your Return of Earnings (ROE) or W.As.8. It is basically a declaration to the Compensation Fund of your employees’ earnings for the past year – in this case from 1 March 2019 to 29 February 2020 (the same as the tax year). In addition, you also need to provide projected earnings for the next year.

Although the official deadline is 31 March, this has been extended to 31 May.

As always, we at SimplePay try to make your life easier, and you are able to download a report from our system that will help you to complete your W.As.8. Simply go to Submissions > OID (Workman’s Comp) Return.

More information about the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COID) Act can be found on our help site.

Remember: your bi-annual SARS filing / reconciliation is also coming up soon, so if you get your ROE submission out of the way, it’s one less thing to worry about.

Please feel free to contact [email protected] if you need any assistance.

Team SimplePay

Updates in SimplePay for the 2020/2021 Tax Year

As we enter the new tax year on 1 March, we’d like to remind you that there is no need to do a manual year end as in other payroll systems – simply continue processing payslips into the new tax year.

When you need to do your filing, the correct period will automatically be used and the relevant documents will be generated. For more information, please see our help site.

In addition, our system has already been updated in order to ensure that you are always compliant. We are pleased to inform you that as from 1 March 2020, your payroll will automatically meet all the requirements for the 2020/2021 period, as announced in the 2020 Budget Speech on 26 February 2020. If you are still processing payroll for the 2019/2020 tax year, the old tax tables will still be used, as you’d expect.

Here are some of the most important changes that you will see in your payroll for the coming year:

2020/2021 Tax Rates

The tax rates for individuals have remained the same as last year, with the tax brackets, thresholds and rebates increasing.

Taxable Income (R)Rate of Tax (R)
0 – 205 90018% of taxable income
205 901 – 321 60037 062 + 26% of taxable income above 205 900
321 601 – 445 10067 144 + 31% of taxable income above 321 600
445 101 – 584 200105 429 + 36% of taxable income above 445 100
584 201 – 744 800155 505 + 39% of taxable income above 584 200
744 801 – 1 577 300218 139 + 41% of taxable income above 744 800
1 577 301 and above559 464 + 45% of taxable income above 1 577 300

The tax threshold has increased from R79 000 to R83 100 because the primary rebate has increased from R14 220 to R14 958.

Medical Aid Tax Credit

The medical aid tax credit has increased as follows:

  • The tax credit for the main member and first dependant has increased from R310.00 to R319.00 per month.
  • For every additional dependant, the tax credit has increased from R209.00 to R215.00 per month.

Subsistence Allowance

The ‘tax free’ portion for the subsistence allowance** has increased as follows:

  • The allowance for incidental costs within South Africa has changed from R134.00 to R139.00.
  • The allowance for meals and incidental costs within South Africa has changed from R435.00 to R452.00.

**It is important to note that the subsistence allowance is only a guideline provided by SARS and is not legislated.

Travel Allowances

  • The rate per kilometer for reimbursive travel allowances has increased to 398 cents.
  • The rates per kilometre which may be used in determining the allowable deduction for business travel against an allowance or advance where actual costs are not claimed, are outlined in the following SARS table:
Value of the vehicle (R)Fixed cost (R p.a.)Fuel cost (c/km)Maintenance cost (c/km)
0 – 95 00031 332105.837.4
95 001 – 190 00055 894118.146.8
190 001 – 285 00080 539128.351.6
285 001 – 380 000102 211138.056.4
380 001 – 475 000123 955147.766.2
475 001 – 570 000146 753169.477.8
570 001 – 665 000169 552175.196.6
665 001 and above169 552175.196.6

Foreign Income Exemption

A cap of R1.25 million per year has been placed on the exemption of foreign income earned by South African tax residents. Any foreign employment income earned over and above R1.25 million will be subject to tax for the particular year of assessment.

No changes were announced for the common payroll components of UIF and SDL.

If you have any questions relating to the above changes, you are welcome to email us at [email protected] to assist you with these queries.

The SimplePay Team

National Minimum Wage Increase

The national minimum wage rates, as specified in the National Minimum Wage Act, will increase by 3.8% from R20 per hour to R20,76 for employees. This minimum wage increase will be effective from 1 March 2020.

This means that the hourly rate will need to be changed for employees who are currently earning a wage lower than R20,76 per hour. To review or edit the hourly rate for employees, go to Employees > Bulk Actions > Regular Inputs and select “Basic Salary” and “Hourly Paid” under Filters.

This increase in the hourly rate will also mean an increase in the leave pay for hourly-paid workers as they will be paid extra when paid leave is taken. More information on leave pay can be found on our help site here.

Remember that a change in the ordinary hourly wage will also impact the rate for Sunday pay and public holiday pay. For more information on these, refer to our help page here.

Specific groups of workers will also have an increase in their national minimum wage of 3.8%, as shown below:

  • Farm workers: R18,68 per hour
  • Domestic workers: R15,57 per hour
  • Public works program: R11,42 per hour

Learnership Allowances

The learnership allowances per week for learners specified in Schedule 2 of the National Minimum Wage Act have also increased and come into effect on 1 March 2020. Please refer to page 2 of the Government Gazette found here for the allowances.

If you have any further queries regarding the impact of this Act on your payroll and on the system, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Team SimplePay

Parental, Adoption and Commissioning Parental Leave

South Africa’s new parental, adoption and commissioning parental leave have officially been signed into law effective 1 January 2020. These new leave types, considered by many as a historic victory for parents, children and families, cater for new parents who do not qualify for maternity leave. This includes fathers, adopting parents and those undergoing surrogacy.

Parental Leave

New parents, other than the mothers giving birth, are entitled to 10 consecutive days of unpaid parental leave once per year when their children are born. If they are a contributor to UIF, they will also have a right to claim for parental leave. They will no longer be allowed to take Family Responsibility Leave for the birth of a child.

Adoption Leave

Adoption leave applies to those adopting a child under the age of two. One parent will be entitled to 10 consecutive weeks of unpaid Adoption Leave, while the other parent will be entitled to Parental Leave (as discussed above).

Commissioning Parental Leave

This leave applies to parents using a surrogate. The primary caregiver will qualify for 10 consecutive weeks’ of unpaid Commissioning Parental Leave, while the other parent will be entitled to Parental Leave (as discussed above).

There are currently no UIF benefits for Adoption and Commissioning Parental leave. These will only come into effect 1 April 2020.

Capturing on SimplePay

To capture this correctly on SimplePay, terminate the employee by ending their service on the system and use an appropriate UIF Code. The following UIF codes have been added for these new leave types:

  • UIF Code 18: Commissioning Parental
  • UIF Code 19: Parental Leave

For additional information and assistance, consult the following help pages:

Team SimplePay

Interest Rate Change for Employer Loans

The South African Reserve Bank has decided to decrease the repurchase rate (repo rate) by 25 basis points, effective from 16 January 2020.

The official interest rate used for calculating the fringe benefit on low or interest free loans to employees is set as 100 basis points above the repo rate. This means that the interest rate used for calculating the fringe benefit on employer loans decreases from 7.5% to 7.25%, effective 16 January 2020.

If you’re a SimplePay user, you do not need to take any action to implement the new interest rate, as we have already updated our system to reflect these changes. Therefore, all payslips dated and finalised from 16 January onwards will use the new interest rate. If a payslip dated after 16 January was finalised before the 16 January (i.e. it was finalised in advance), you will need to unfinalise the payslip and then finalise it again for the changes to take effect. As we have built our system to be intuitive, the previous interest rate will be used if you are still preparing payslips dated before the 16 January, regardless of what date you physically finalise the payslip.

If you are unsure of how to capture employee loans or calculate the fringe benefit on them, refer to our help page here.

Team SimplePay

Year in Review and Price Adjustment

As 2019 (and the decade) draws to a close, we’d like to thank you for choosing SimplePay as your payroll software provider. We really value the loyalty, ideas, feedback and love that we get from you, our clients.

We would also like to take this opportunity to reflect on the year that has been and share some important information with you. 

In January, our annual price adjustment will come into effect. As always, this will be an inflationary-related increase, which allows us to maintain the quality of our product and the service that we offer. Our current prices are available here – we will send out a notice in January to alert you of the new prices.

When looking back on 2019, it was certainly a year of growth for our team, which led to the fantastic accomplishment of being nominated as a Xero App Partner of the Year. Some of the major features and functions that we accomplished were:

  • Custom items based on system items, and the subsequent expansion of this feature
  • Custom employee fields in Basic Info
  • A new leave days report
  • Customisation of employee self-service
  • Bulk actions for once-off payslips and overriding payslip end dates
  • Leave expiration
  • QuickBooks integration upgrade
  • Automatic logout for idle accounts

In 2020, you can expect the team to continue striving to enhance your payroll experience. As always, all added features are completely free for all and do not change the monthly fee that you pay.

From all of us here at SimplePay, have a joyful festive season. We are looking forward to a great 2020 together!

Team SimplePay

QuickBooks Integration Upgrade

As the year draws to a close, our holiday elves have been bustling behind the scenes to enhance your payroll experience, focusing on our QuickBooks integration. SimplePay integrates with both QuickBooks and Xero, allowing you to send your payroll information straight from SimplePay into your general ledger accounts with the click of a button. This means that you do not have to switch between systems to transfer information, saving you time and reducing the possibility of human error.

You’ll be happy to hear that our QuickBooks integration has been refined to give you an upgraded user interface and setup. These improvements will make the process easier to navigate and simpler to understand if you wish to integrate your payroll and accounting information.

If you have already integrated QuickBooks and SimplePay in the past, please note that you may be required to re-authenticate your account due to the work done behind the scenes.

For more information on integrating SimplePay with QuickBooks, head on over to our help page.

Team SimplePay 

Expansion of Custom Items Based on System Items

In March 2019 we announced a new feature that allows you to create customised items that follow the same tax and payroll rules as certain system items. It proved to be so popular amongst you, our users, that there were requests to allow for more system items to be customised. We’re happy to say that we have now expanded this feature to also include the following items:

  • Provident Fund
  • Subsistence Allowance Local
  • Subsistence Allowance International
  • Travel Allowance

Remember, this feature allows you to:

  1. Create multiple items of a certain type
  2. Customise the names of these items
  3. Map different versions of a specific type of item to different Xero accounts

How does it work?

When creating a custom item (Settings > Custom Items > Add), there is an option to select create a copy of an existing system item. Select the system item that you wish to use and give it a custom name. You can then add it to your payslips in the same way you would the system item of that type (Regular Inputs or Payslip Inputs).

Read our help page here for more information on creating custom items.

If you need assistance on this, please reach out to our support team who would be happy to help.

Team SimplePay