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This is how we claimed successfully (for South African employees) from the UIF and were paid within 36 hours:

  1. The black hole – unreliable UIF email addresses
    • We gave up any hope for those bulk email addresses that UIF keeps on telling you where you should send email documents… I honestly question whether a human has the capacity to read 100,000 emails with attachments of all shapes and sizes
  2. That all-mightly CSV excel file with 15 pages of instructions
    • From a basic experiment I did, it looks like the UIF is batch-queuing the CSV files and a human is somehow supposed to filter through this. In simple terms, it didn’t work for us.
  3. We used the online COVID-19 TERS application system
    • How does one handle +100,000 applications? Not with a human, but with a computerised system. The only people that I know have been paid have used the online application system…
  4. We registered as an Employer/Company and selected “Pay to Employer” option
  5. We added every employee individually
    • We did not use that CSV option… I repeat: we did not use that CSV upload option. I know it seems quicker to add this file and be gone with it, but from my tests, it looks like the CSV files are being batch-queued, so it’s not going to update UIF’s database in real-time… see point 2 above
  6. We added R0.00 for the “salary during lockdown”

At the end of March, we technically laid-off every single employee (including my partner and myself)

Why?… For 3 reasons:

  1. So that every employee would qualify for the normal UIF benefits if TERS was stopped/ended and we couldn’t pay them. This would let them immediately claim from the UIF via or manual submission or email
  2. Under a lay-off situation, every employee has a right to their position if/when the business recovers to a point such that the business may re-employ the employee (a lay-off gives a person this right, while retrenchment is permanent with no right to the position any longer)
  3. The UIF was expected to be delayed in paying benefits, so structured it that we could advance our team their wages/salary and then reduce this loan by the UIF amount paid… yes, technically the team member owes us anything we’ve paid above the UIF benefit because it is technically a loan, but we are being human about this and will write it off in future.
  • If you want our lay-off letter, click this download link
  • We’re trying to fight through this an not leave one person behind
  1. After 10 employees, we would click “Check and Submit” and then add more employees individually until 10 and do again just in case the site crashed
  2. We submitted on a Saturday evening and received payment the following Tuesday morning for our South African employees
    • Unfortunately, our non-South African team members received an error report “No ID no found”… From my understanding, UIF cannot automatically process Foreign Passport employees BUT still lets you submit on the online application system
    • So now because foreign employees aren’t being paid, UIF asks you to send 3 months proof of payroll with UI19 form to another bulk email address (cough…). My thoughts: see point 1 above.
    • We anticipate the UIF will eventually/hopefully/finally update their software to process the integration between the application system and their records of foreign employees which they have already.

Some other tips I think might be of use:

  • Don’t have your UIF number or want to double-check it? Simply input your PAYE number here and you’ll get your UIF number back immediately
  • Do you want to find out i) if you’ve been paid and ii) how much you have been paid? Input your UIF number here and you’ll be shown your payment status immediately
  • Don’t quote me on this, but I am under the impression that the UIF call centre is mostly outsourced meaning you’re not actually talking to people who have worked in the UIF and know whos-who
  • The Cape Town Supervisor for capturing UIF employee declarations (think UI19 form) is Luvuyo Solomon, direct email is here
  • The Cape Town Supervisor for assessment of UIF claims is Janine Crystal Pieterse, direct email is here
  • Nico Groenewald is the main boss (I stand to be corrected) for Cape Town UIF and his direct email is here (he has been amazing, replies to emails within 4 hours)
  • Lastly, Bhele Mzinyati is the Regional Head for Cape Town Employment & Labour Centre, direct email is here

Disclaimer (legal stuff):
By no means do we think our way is the best or perfect way. And please note the above is not advice. It is an experience share of what we have chosen to do. If you see value in it, you’re more than welcome to apply anything you think will help your circumstances.

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