TERS Update and September Recap

Another month has passed by meaning that it is time to reflect on September’s events, as well as see what October has to offer. September has been an eventful month, with the country entering level 1 of lockdown and so triggering a number of changes. This is a good thing, providing more freedom for businesses to reopen and recover. 

In our blog today we will be giving you updates on some of  the changes brought about by level 1 of lockdown, as well as updates on the TERS process after its recent rehaul.

TERS Update

Update 5 October: Due to a water leak, the office running TERS operations is experiencing some downtime. They expect the issue to be resolved by the end of today.

Since our last blog covering the TERS process on 15 September, the UIF has significantly updated its safeguards. The process had to be halted in order for the UIF, now headed by acting commissioner Marsha Bronkhurst, to address the findings of the auditor general. 

On 21 September, after a two week pause, the UIF restarted its newer and better constituted TERS process. A key change is better bank verification, where you can opt to use your company’s CIPC / CK number, RSA ID number or the trade name which is linked to the account. 

You should be careful to ensure that the information you enter exactly matches the bank’s records. The UIF has advised that the verification steps won’t take place till you’re next due to receive payment, meaning that unless instructed otherwise by a notification on your TERS profile, any amendments you’ve made are either still to be checked or are correct.

Applications for 16 August to 15 September

Applications for TERS benefits between 16 August and 15 September opened last Thursday (1 October 2020). Before applying you must ensure that your employees were still eligible for TERS benefits during this period, i.e. 16 August to 15 September.

For more information on the application period and eligibility requirements, you can read this Department of Employment and Labour media statement.

Duration of the TERS scheme

The COVID-19 TERS Direction from 7 September 2020 gave us some clarity on how long this support will last. In summary, based off this Direction, TERS will come to a conclusion either:

  • When South Africa is no longer under a national state of disaster (currently due to end on 15 October); or
  • When the Minister announces its conclusion on an earlier date.

Level 1 – Effect on Businesses

The key effect of level 1 is that it allows almost all normal commercial activity to resume. Below we have summarised some of the key changes that affect economic activity.

Gatherings

Provided that the safety measures are followed, gatherings are now permitted up to 50% of a venue’s capacity. This is up to a maximum of 250 people for an indoor venue, or 500 people for an outdoor venue. 

An owner or operator of a venue where gatherings are held must display a certificate of occupancy, listing the maximum number of people permitted. The certificates are provided by your local municipality, meaning that you should be able to find out how to get one from their website.

Travel

Level 1 brings extremely positive news if you operate in the hospitality and travel industries. From 1 October, international travel is permitted, both into and from South Africa for business and leisure. We hope that this will provide a boost in business after what must have been an extremely trying time.

For travel by air, this is subject to the travellers country of origin not being on the red list, in addition to other safety measures such as the traveller providing a negative test upon arrival which is less than 72 hours old.

All 18 land borders are now open, subject to safety requirements and border post limitations. All docks are now also open, but passenger liners for luxury travel are still prohibited to disembark.

We hope that the timing of this change has been a good one and that October will mark a revival in your business.

You can find more information about travel restrictions on this Government page, under Alert level 1.

Economic Activity

Providing that all the relevant health protocols, social distancing measures, occupational health and safety direction and sector-specific health protocols are met, businesses can carry out economic activity. We hope that this is a positive and meaningful change for your business, that will help speed your recovery over the coming months.

Unfortunately the return to business is not universal. The  following list of activities are still not permitted at the date of writing:

  • Night vigils
  • Night clubs.
  • The 35 land borders that remain closed.
  • Initiation practices.
  • Passenger ships for international leisure purposes.
  • Attendance of any sporting event by spectators.
  • International sports events.
  • Exclusions relating to public transport services as set out in the directions issued by the Cabinet member responsible for transport.
  • Exclusions relating to education services as set out in the directions

We hope that this information has proved useful to you. If you have any questions on how the information above relates to SimplePay, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] 

Equally, If you are not yet a client of SimplePay but would like to be, why not try out our service on the house? You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. Get to grips with our user-friendly service by reading our getting started page, or trying our free online course. Concerned about cost? Don’t be; we’ve simplified that too – check out our pricing page. Alternatively, you can request a formal quote if you need one here.

Keep well and stay safe.

Team SimplePay

Lockdown Level 2

Note: This information was correct at the time of writing, being based on the Government’s related media releases.

Today (18/08/2020) is the first day that South Africa has dropped down to lockdown level 2 out of 5. But what does this actually mean? In today’s blog we shall outline the new changes and provide a summary table of what changed between each level of lockdown. 

Level 2

Travel and Accommodation

For the first time since 27 March 2020, people living in South Africa are allowed to travel between provinces for leisure purposes. This relaxation comes at the same time as the removal of the limit to the range of accommodation facilities which can be used, meaning that those of you in the hospitality sector can once again welcome nationwide guests. 

Gatherings

Under level 2, provided that you observe the Government Regulations on social distancing and health protocols, a number of gatherings are now permitted. This further expands the number of businesses that are able to operate under level 2. You can read the full list of permitted gatherings in section 55 of the Government gazette, but we have picked out a handful of the most relevant ones below:

  • Accommodation establishments and tour operators (up to 50% of available floor space, with patrons at least 1.5 metres apart)
  • Bars, taverns, shebeens and similar establishments (up to 50 people)
  • Concerts and live performances (up to 50 people)
  • Tourist attractions
  • Gyms, subject to guidelines (up to 50 people)
  • Swimming pools (up to 50 people)
  • Sports grounds and fields
  • Beaches and public parks

Sale of Alcohol and Cigarettes

The Government has relaxed its stance on the sale of alcohol, meaning that bars, restaurants and other institutions with a license to sell alcohol on-site can again do so, provided strict adherence to the 10pm curfew.

Additionally, alcohol can now be sold in shops between the hours of 9am to 5pm. Cigarettes may also now be sold in shops.

Businesses that must Remain Closed

Despite the majority of businesses, there are a number which must remain closed at this moment under level 2. These are:

  • 1. Night clubs
  • 2. International passenger air travel for leisure purposes
  • 3. Passenger ships for international leisure purposes
  • 4. Attendance of any sporting event by spectators
  • 5. International sports events
  • 6. Exclusions relating to public transport services as set out in the directions issued by the Cabinet member responsible for transport

Comparative Table of Lockdown Levels

Below is a comparative table between lockdown levels 5 to 2. If changes were made within the period of a certain lockdown level, the changed position will be recorded within the table. For a more detailed evaluation of the level, you can click on the link at the head of each column.

Lockdown LevelFive (5) Four (4)Three (3)Two (2)
Effective Date27/03/202001/05/202001/06/202017/08/2020
ShoppingFood, medicine and healthcare onlyFood, medicine, healthcare and limited others Most shopping reopened, but alcohol and tobacco sales remain prohibitedMajority of shopping reopened
TravelNone, except essentialNone, except essential and for businessBusiness travel and Intra-provincial leisure travelAll Inter-provincial travel, including domestic flights
Permitted GatheringsNone, except for funeralsFunerals, workplaces and obtaining certain goods and servicesA large number of gatherings permitted, subject to conditionsA large number of gatherings permitted, including amateur sport and small social events
Public SpacesClosedLimited number open, e.g. exercise permitted between 6 – 9amLimited number open for activities e.g. exercise between 6:00 – 18:00Open, subject to the Minister announcing closure and adherence with health protocols
Workplaces  Open for the provision of Food, medicine and healthcare onlyOpen for the provision of Infrastructure, manufacturing and food, as well as some other services.Majority reopened, except for some accommodation establishments and nightclubsMajority reopened
LeisureNoneNoneLarge number of services reopened within provinces, minus gyms, sports facilities, beaches and othersMajority of services reopened, minus nightclubs, spectating live sport and limited others

We hope that you have found the above information useful. If you have any questions on how the information above relates to SimplePay, please feel free to contact us at [email protected]  

Equally, if you are not yet a client of SimplePay but would like to be, or if you’d like to know how we can take the effort out of filing and calculating payroll, you can get a formal quote, sign up for our 30-day free trial or learn how to get set up on SimplePay. Alternatively, you can get in touch with one of our amazing support team at [email protected] 

Keep well and stay safe.

Team SimplePay

Easing of Tourism Industry Restrictions Under Level 3

On 30 July 2020, the Minister for Tourism gave a speech on the relaxation of certain lockdown measures affecting the tourism industry. Subsequently, these announced changes have been released in a Government gazette, meaning that you are now allowed to do the actions referred to in the speech. In the blog today we will be picking out the key aspects of the speech and explaining what exactly you can now do under level 3 of lockdown.

Restaurants

The nine o’clock curfew has had a greater adverse impact on the restaurant industry in comparison to most others. This restriction has had the effect of limiting the number of prospective customers at one of the busiest periods for restaurants. 

Responding to this, the Government has extended curfews to 10pm, thus accommodating later dinner services.

Leisure Accommodation

Restrictions to domestic and leisure travel have resulted in a large, if not total, shrinkage in business for accommodation establishments.

As of 1 August,  if you are an accommodation establishment, you will be able to welcome customers from within your own province. We must emphasise that this easing is only for intra-provincial travel, i.e. no travel between provinces for leisure purposes. There are also the following two provisos:

  1. No more than two people per room is allowed (except for parents staying in a room with their children).
  2. Short term home rentals and home sharing remains closed.

Safari Tour Operators

Prior to the new Regulations, only self-driven safari tours were permitted under level 3. The changes mean that if you are a tour operator, you can carry out open air guided tours, subject to certain directions.  

COVID-19 Loan Guarantee Scheme

Use of the newly revised COVID-19 Loan Guarantee scheme was encouraged by the Minister in her speech. The new revisions aim to make it easier for companies in all sectors to access loans for operational costs, on preferential terms.  You can now also apply for business restart loans to assist you in the costs of reopening your business.

More information on the scheme and the changes in requirements can be found in this official guide.

Tourism Sector Recovery Plan

On 1 August, a draft of the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan was released for public comment. Subject to amendments, this provides you with a roadmap for how the Department for Tourism aims to navigate through the coming months.

Reading the draft recovery plan should give you a better understanding of the Department for Tourism’s strategy for rejuvenating the tourism sector is. If you want to give any input on the recovery plan, this must be sent to [email protected] by 15 August 2020.

We hope that you have found the above information useful. If you have any questions on how the information above relates to SimplePay, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].  

Equally, if you are not yet a client of SimplePay but would like to be, or if you’d like to know how we can take the effort out of filing and calculating payroll, get in contact with us or visit our website.

Keep well and stay safe.

Team SimplePay

Week Recap and Level 3 of Lockdown – Effect on Business

Closing off the month of May and level 4 of lockdown in style, this blog will give a brief overview of what’s been covered this week in our blogs, before turning to what businesses can expect under level 3 in June.

Week Recap

REMINDER – The deadline for the Annual Employer Reconciliation Period is this Sunday, 31 May, as detailed in our previous blog.

Upcoming ETI changes for the May EMP201 blog contents:

  • Revisions to the COVID-19 ETI legislation is being completed in time for May payroll submissions
  • Please delay in submitting for May, we shall ensure the changes are ready for 7 June and shall inform you when the changes are complete

TERS Applications for May Open blog contents:

  • Details of the application process for COVID-19 TERS applications.
  • Key changes between the TERS process for May in comparison to April

TERS: Foreign Workers Update blog contents: 

  • Details surrounding the issue(s) in making a claim for TERS benefits on behalf of foreign employees
  • Possible means of remedying the issue and prospective changes for May applications

New Functionality: Download Responses to Electronic UIF Submissions blog contents:

  • Users can now download responses from the UIF in relation to their monthly UI-19 submissions

Level 3 of Lockdown – Effect on Business

On Sunday 24 May, the President announced that the whole country will move to level 3 of lockdown on 1 June. We thought it would be handy to provide you with a blog on what this actually means for your business. Below we have summarised some of the most relevant points to note for life under level 3.

Which Businesses can now Open?

According to President Ramaphosa, as of 1 June all manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, professional and business services, wholesalers, retailers, media services and ICT businesses can reopen.

Retailers can be fully reopened, including stores, spaza shops and informal traders. Additionally, airlines will be allowed to reopen, initially for domestic business purposes, with more air travel being phased in on announced dates.

Industries which were open under levels 4 and 5, such as agriculture, medical services and food production, will remain fully open.

In the President’s speech, he stated that the reopening will be contingent on each business creating a workplace plan. This plan must be aligned with the Government’s guidance (discussed below), as well as any protocols released by the relevant sector (if any are released). 

You can read the Government’s notice on lockdown level 3 here. The most relevant sections to this blog are sections 46 and 47. Below are a few key points from subsections of  section 46:

  • Businesses and other institutions with over 100 employees must implement measures to minimise the number of employees in the workplace at one time. Examples given include shift patterns and remote working.
  • Relevant health protocols and social distancing measures must be adhered to, including the screening of employees.
  • Construction, manufacturing, business and financial services firms with more than 500 employees must finalise appropriate sector or workplace arrangements addressing transport, staggering employee working and screening, whilst also documenting these actions.

Under section 47 of the above notice found in the PDF linked below, each business needs to designate a “COVID-19 compliance officer”. The compliance officer needs to implement the aforementioned workplace plan, as well as oversee the adherence to hygiene measures. 

Further details of the requirements of the workplace plan and compliance officer can be found in section 47, on page 14 of this linked document.

Which Businesses must Remain Closed?

Under level 3, a number of businesses must remain closed, these include:

  • Professional Care services e.g. hairdressers, beauty treatments and beauty salons
  • Restaurants, except for the provision of takeaways, drive through services and collection
  • Bars, taverns, shebeens, nightclubs and casinos
  • Hotels, lodges and other accommodation facilities (except for certain permitted guests)
  • Gyms and sports facilities
  • Exhibit and conference centres
  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Museums
  • Flea Markets and bazaars

If we are made aware of any developments for the above mentioned businesses, we shall update you.

Recommendations from Government

For this new list of businesses that can return to work, the President advised that where possible, employees should work from home. Where this is not practicable workplace plans should be in place. Additionally, those deemed especially vulnerable, such as employees over 60 years old and those who suffer from underlying conditions, should ideally work from home. Failing this, the employer needs to ensure that these vulnerable employees have a safe return to work, which may include the use of special measures.

A potential problem which was identified from the reopening of the economy is the use of public transport. It was stated that all commuters must wear masks and wash their hands before and after travelling, as well as avoiding touching their faces with unwashed hands.

The full transcript of the President’s speech can be read by following this link and an infographic summarising level 3 is linked here.

Closing on a positive, to relieve the stress provided by business operations and TERS applications, you now have the opportunity to release that tension by exercising between 6am and 6pm! And on that happy note, we wish you a pleasant and relaxing  weekend.

Keep well. Stay home. Stay safe.

Team SimplePay

Amended Disaster Management Bills and Level 4 of Lockdown – 5 May

As a new week under lockdown commences, we have plenty to update you on! Firstly, as promised in our last blog, found here, we have an update on what new information has come to light following the release of the Government’s latest draft bills. Following this, we have provided you with a summary of what you need to do to be compliant when reopening your business under level 4 of the lockdown.

Latest Disaster Management Bills’ Effect on Payroll

The Disaster Management Tax Relief and Tax Administration bills were released over the weekend, providing the detail needed from the Minister for Finance’s speech on 23 April (linked here). They will be open to scrutiny up to 15 May, after which point the finer details of the law shall crystallise. Nonetheless, the following measures are operational already due to the nature of the Disaster Management Act 2002.

ETI Update

Update 6 May: We are pleased to announce that the necessary changes to the system have been made, meaning that you can now submit/resubmit your EMP201s for April to receive the full additional ETI entitlement for qualifying employees.

Under the latest draft bill, as suggested in last week’s recap blog, the amount of additional ETI per employee under the new scheme has been increased from R500 to R750. 

At this moment in time, this incentive is still to be run between 1 April and 31 July. We are working on our system for you to be able to claim this additional ETI, including this revised amount of R750 per employee, as soon as possible.

We shall release a further blog and notification as soon as we have done the above to give you as much time as possible to resubmit.

Skills Development Levy (SDL) Payment Holiday

It has been reiterated that no contributions towards the SDL are necessary for the months of May to August. As it is a suspension, this means that you will not have to pay these month’s contributions at a later date.

We shall make the necessary amendments so that these changes are reflected in May’s EMP201 submissions.

35% PAYE Deferment

The draft bills have reinforced many of the points from previous blogs and are reiterated here:

  • Increase in the amount of PAYE which can be deferred from 20% to 35% (this is calculated automatically for you by SARS, see our recap blog here).
  • Increase in the annual turnover threshold of tax compliant small to medium sized businesses from R50 million to R100 million.
  • The deferment is effective from 1 April to 31 July (4 months).
  • Repayments shall be spread equally across the 6 months following the deferment period.

There have also been some proposed amendments on passive income. These are as follows:

  • The passive income (e.g. rent) percentage which could make businesses ineligible for the scheme has been increased from 10% to 20%.
  • The categories passive income shall be extended to include currency derived from royalties and annuities.
  • This rule on passive income excludes persons whose main trading activity is the letting of fixed property.

As per our previous blogs, you do not need to carry out any steps in order to receive the benefit of the deferment. The calculations will be done by SARS, reducing the amount of PAYE which is due for the month in question.

Workplace Requirements – Lockdown Level 4

With a number of employees set to return to work under level 4 of lockdown, the Department for Labour has set out minimum guidelines to ensure the safety of workplaces.

Below we have summarised all of the requirements that need to be met.

General

  • Employers must provide employees, at least two cloth masks, free of charge.
  • Employees and members of the public must wear masks when commuting or entering the premises.
  • Employees with symptoms must not be at work and employers must either grant paid sick leave, or apply for the COVID-19 Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) on their behalf.
  • Employers must appoint a manager to address the concerns of employees.

Social Distancing

  • Workplaces must be arranged to allow for at least a 1.5 metre gap between employees. Employers were also encouraged by Minister Thulas Nxesi to minimise the number of workers present at one time through shift patterns to achieve social distancing.
  • If the 1.5 metre gap is not possible, barriers must be erected, and PPE provided free of charge.
  • All common areas, such as canteens, must practice social distancing.

Screening 

  • Employers must screen employees for symptoms at the time that they report for work. 
  • Employees must immediately inform their employer if they experience any symptoms while at work.
  • Workers with symptoms must be placed in isolation and arrangements made for transit to medical examination or self isolation.
  • Employees who recover from COVID-19 may return to work following a medical evaluation, and subject to ongoing monitoring.

Sanitisers and Disinfectant

  • Employers must provide a sufficient amount of hand sanitiser with at least 70% alcohol content.
  • Communal and shared equipment must be regularly cleaned.

Enforcement by Labour inspectors

  • Labour inspectors are empowered to promote, monitor and enforce compliance.
  • Failure to comply could result in the closure of the business.

Minister Nxesi emphasised that all of the above needs to be in place for when employees return to work, and failure to comply could result in the closure of that business. The department is looking to employ a further 500 inspectors to help regulate these new directives and ensure that everyone returning to work remains safe.

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

Lockdown Recap Blog #3

Despite a shortened week caused by not one, but two public holidays, it has been yet another busy period. In this blog we shall recap and link you to the important news and updates from the past days.

Recent Blogs and their Content

To help address confusion surrounding everything to do with lockdown, we have been creating several blogs to both inform you on updates to support measures and let you know how SimplePay is making your life easier to access these. 

It is worth noting that the more recent the blog, the more up to date the information is, so it is advisable to work back from the most recent when looking for information. Equally though, the previous blogs are extremely useful for providing context and building a broad base of knowledge.

Below you will find a list of the most recent blogs and their content, just in case you missed them!

29 April Update Blog Contents:

  • Clarification on how the TERS Payout functions and the impact of employer additional payments; 
  • Expansion of applicability for the 35% PAYE deferment scheme; 
  • Delay to Tourism Relief Fund Payout; and 
  • Information on updates to annuity funds.

28 April Update Blog Contents:

  • Summary of the Minister for Finance’s speech on 23 April, notably listing prospective financial support measures

24 April Update Blog Contents:

  • Information on how TERS benefit is to be distributed to employees;
  • Increase in the amount of employers able to apply to TERS; and
  • TERS application tracker.

23 April Update Blog Contents:

  • Nature of TERS payouts;
  • Clarification on the dates for TERS CSV export; and
  • A summary of poignant parts of President Ramaphosa’s speech from 21 April. 

Blogs which predate the ones listed are linked in our previous two lockdown recap blogs (below). 

Lockdown Recap #2 Content:

  • PAYE tax deferment, TERS, ETI, Tourism and Industrial support, Interest Rate reduction, filing.
  • Details of changes that occurred between 6 and 14 April (+retrospective additions);

Recap Blog #1 Contents:

  • List of Governmental body contact numbers, FAQ’s on a variety of topics and an explanation of the options open to employers and their employees.
  • Details of changes that occurred between 27 March and 14 April.

Dedicated TERS Blogs

Update 7 May: The Department for Employment and Labour has not yet started accepting TERS applications for the month of May. They have requested that applicants continue to revisit the website until applications for May become live.

8 May Update blog: clarification on the manner in which you calculate TERS benefit payouts, as well as the effect of employer contributions on the TERS benefit amount.

New System Item: TERS Benefit Payout Contents:

  • Details of how you can record employee’s TERS payout on the payslip using SimplePay.

Update to TERS Application Channel Content:

  • New mandatory online application method (CSV Export is still utilised).

COVID-19 TERS CSV Export Content:

  • Details surrounding the TERS CSV export required when applying, which can be exported from Simplepay.

A full list of COVID-19 related posts, including information on UIF claims can alternatively be found on our website. 

Additional Updates

30 April: Lockdown Level 4

Following President Ramaphosa’s speech on 21 April, tomorrow South Africa will enter into lockdown level 4. This reduces the strictness of the measures that have been in place over the last 6 weeks, and provides opportunities for some businesses to reopen their doors.

The Government website provides information on what the changes that will come into place tomorrow are. A page on these measures can be found here.

Status of Changes from the Finance Minister’s Speech – 28 April

There was mention of an increase in the COVID-19 Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) amount from R500 to R750; When does this come into effect?

The increase in the amount of ETI will be given legal effect when the changes to the Disaster Management Tax Relief Bill and the Disaster Management Tax Relief Administration Bill are passed into law. These were meant to have been released today, 30 April, but unfortunately appear to have been delayed.

If you have any questions on ETI in the meantime, a useful source is the SARS Question and Answer page, found here.

We are making good progress on finishing the necessary adjustments to our system for you with respect to ETI, in time for the 7 May deadline. If it does turn out that this increase of R750 per employee is retrospective to 1 April, and you have already completed your EMP201 submissions we shall endeavor to ensure that the ETI carries over to the next month. If this is not possible for whatever reason, we shall get in contact with you to request that you resubmit your EMP201s.

How will the Skills Development Levy Holiday Function?

As above with ETI, we are still waiting for the release of the Bills to know how this is going to function. 

This is a less pressing matter though as the initial drafts from SARS do not have the commencement of the payment holiday until 1 May, or in other words until your next pay run. We shall therefore get back to you as soon as we know more about this.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I track the progress of my TERS application?

In our blog on 24 April, we mentioned the new TERS application tracker. This is likely the fastest way to follow the progress of any applications which you have. 

Alternatively, you can call the TERS hotline on 012 337 1997.

Something has gone wrong during my online application to TERS – HELP! 

Sadly we cannot express any special knowledge as to what may have happened during an online application to TERS. Therefore we would recommend that you persevere with trying to contact the TERS hotline on 012 337 1997. We understand that this is an incredibly stressful and frustrating situation and will continue in our endeavors to obtain and provide any additional information we can.

I have submitted a UIF application through SimplePay, but have not received a response yet; what should I do?

Having submitted an application for UIF using SimplePay, first you will receive a status reading “awaiting response”, which will then change to “confirmed”. 

At this moment in time it is taking a minimum of seven (7) days for a response to come back from UIF. Therefore, we would request that you wait a minimum of seven (7) days before contacting us with a query on this. If, after this period, your submission has still seen no progress please feel free to get in touch with our customer service team on [email protected]

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