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By Gerhard Papenfus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ON ALL NEWSWIRES

OPEN LETTER TO THE MINISTER OF EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR

COVID-19 TERS-FUNDING: IN ITS OWN STATE OF DISASTER

15 April 2020

Dear Minister

Your announcement of the COVID-19 TERS-funding scheme was received with great appreciation – by employers and employees alike – as it would provide substantial relief to both parties, employees in particular.

As per usual, the devil is in the detail and the success of this scheme will be determined by the manner it will be implemented.

Since the announcement of this initiative, employers have been presented with ever changing memorandums of agreement, excel spreadsheets and a wide range of differing instructions as to how the application should be completed and submitted. This has left most employers utterly confused and desperate as they were not able to successfully submit their applications, or could not know if they did, as feedback was not forthcoming.

The following are some of the challenges faced by employers:

• both the telephone numbers provided to assist employers with the applications remain unanswered;
• to aggravate this situation even further, employers have now been advised that, due to the high volumes of applications received, the DEL is unable to verify if the information which was presented was in the correct, ever evolving, format; and consequently requested employers to check the format themselves and then resubmit. This is in itself quite incomprehensible; how would an employer know if he/she had made a mistake if no feedback was received in respect of the application; and
• the e-mailing system has also now been overwhelmed, probably as a result of the resubmission requirement, and is indicating that applications cannot be processed at this time.

Employers were heartened to discover that an online portal was developed in order to process applications, however, this portal is seemingly only functional at times and is marred with error messages. We have been informed that employers need to make several attempts at submitting in order to have any hope of being successful.

It is extremely disappointing that a scheme developed to assist vulnerable employees has been made unnecessarily complicated and is seemingly failing at every step.

In the end, employees and employers alike will suffer the consequences of this failure. Employers, who pay employees in advance, will potentially find themselves in a severe cashflow predicament due to the delay in the processing of claims and this will deter them from making such payments.

Minister, this situation may just be the straw that broke the camel’s back and we respectfully urge you to, as a matter of extreme urgency, instruct your Department to address these issues, in order to provide assistance to those who are in desperate need of it.

This open letter is by Gerhard Papenfus, Chief Executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (NEASA).

For more information:
NEASA Media Department
Marietha Thirion
marietha@neasa.co.za

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