In light of the recent Adjusted Alert Level 4 restrictions, the TERS has officially been extended once again for certain affected employees. The new claim period is from 16 March 2021 to 25 July 2021. Applications for the extended TERS benefit opened on 19 July 2021 and payments are due to commence from 26 July 2021.
Importantly, the latest Directive provides that employers are still expected to apply for the TERS on behalf of qualifying employees in respect of the TERS extension. However, the TERS benefit payments will be made directly to employees' bank accounts rather than to their employers. In light of this, it is vital that employers provide their employees' correct details, including identity document numbers and valid bank accounts. The Directive states that on good cause shown and at the discretion of the UI Commissioner or a delegated official, the UIF can permit payment of the TERS directly to employers who, for instance, paid their employees in advance.
Qualifying sectors for the extended TERS are identified in Annexure A of the Directive, which includes venues that host auctions, professional sports, social events and live performances. Annexure B contains all the other sectors affected by the Adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown restrictions. These include restaurants, the liquor industry, hospitality, tourism as well as industries and business establishments that form part of these value chains.
The following categories of employees qualify for the TERS benefit in terms of the latest TERS extension:
- Employees whose employers fall within the sector specified in Annexure A to the Directive who were not permitted to commence operations (either partially or in full) from 16 March 2021 to 25 July 2021 due to Level 1, 2 and 3 restrictions preventing gatherings of a certain number of people;
- Employees who were and or are still impacted by the Adjusted Level 4 restrictions which commenced on 28 June 2021 (and fall within the sectors outlined in Annexure B to the Directive); and
- Vulnerable employees who have not been able to be accommodated or work during the question (irrespective of whether their employers operate in a sector specified in Annexure A or B);
- Employees whose employers operate in a sector specified in Annexure A or B who were unable to make use of their services fully or partially due to operational requirements caused by compliance with the Disaster Management Regulations; and
- Employees who have had to isolate or go into quarantine, irrespective of whether their employers fall within sectors in Annexure A or B.
The employee declaration returns by the employer will confirm loss of income and inability to make alternative arrangements for the affected employees. To prove that an employer is unable to make alternative arrangements for vulnerable employees to work from home or take alternative measures, and to prove that an employee is in quarantine or isolation and is entitled to benefits, employers are required to submit the following categories of data to the National Institute for Occupational Health in the manner set out in the National Department of Health Guidelines:
- Each employee's vulnerability status for serious outcomes of a COVID-19 infection;
- Details of the COVID-19 screening of employees who are symptomatic;
- Details of employees identified as high risk contacts within the workplace if a worker has been confirmed as being COVID-19 positive; and
- Details on the post-infection outcomes of those individuals testing COVID-19 positive, including the return to work assessment outcome.
A number and employers and employees are of the view that the TERS is there for the taking. Employers who apply for the TERS must be careful to check that they (and their employees) fall within the qualifying criteria. All is not lost for those employees who do not qualify for this round of TERS. Employers who do not operate in the sectors set out in Annexure A or B and who are unable to make use of their employees' services partially or fully due to compliance with the Disaster Management Regulations may still be entitled to apply for the UIF's reduced work time benefit on behalf of their employees.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.