[PRESS STATEMENT] TERS extended to workers not registered for UIF

Date: 27/05/2020

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) welcome the amendments to the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) which extend the definition of “worker” to employees who should have received benefits but whose employer has failed to register them or to pay contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The amendment follows weeks of negotiations and pending litigation to extend the scheme to worker groups left of the initial scheme. LHR representing General Industries Workers Union of SA (GIWUSA) had applied to enter as amicus a legal challenge by three non-profit organisations: the Casual Workers Advice Office, the Women on Farms Project and Izwi Domestic Workers to extend the scheme to vulnerable and precariously placed workers.

GIWUSA is a registered trade union that draws its membership various income levels and social positions, but also has among its ranks low paid workers who are engaged in precarious employment relations.  Some of GIWUSA’s membership also arises from small to medium employers who employ small groups of employees.

The amendment represents a major victory for workers in precarious employment relationships and provides a significant boost for these workers in the uncertain months to follow. Chronic poverty and structural disempowerment continues to be a reality of the overwhelming majority of many precarious workers.  The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare this brutal reality and has only served to render uncertain the livelihoods of thousands. Many of GIWUSA’s members have not been paid by their employers during the lockdown and the TERS benefit scheme had initially excluded workers whose employers had failed to meet their UIF obligations leaving many facing devastating socio-economic consequences of loss of income.

LHR’s Head of Strategic Litigation Programme’s Wayne Ncube said “This is an important development that we hope will have a direct impact on alleviating some of the anxiety faced by marginalised workers who have struggled over the last 2 months. We are encouraged by the State’s ability to engage in the concerns of workers and hope that the payment of these benefits will  be effected without complication”

For queries, contact:

Wayne Ncube, Head: Strategic Litigation Programme

wayne@lhr.org.za  |  071 850 3434

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