See which employers were reported by workers over UIF Ters payments

01 February 2021 - 14:34
A report by Corruption Watch documents the human impact of Ters failures and highlights how its processes can be subverted, and who is to blame. Stock photo.
A report by Corruption Watch documents the human impact of Ters failures and highlights how its processes can be subverted, and who is to blame. Stock photo.
Image: Leon Swart/123rf

A report released by Corruption Watch on Monday highlighted the experiences of 126 whistleblowers allegedly short-changed by employers in delivering what was promised as temporary economic relief during Covid-19.

The Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) was emergency funding introduced in March last year to provide support to employees whose possibility for work or providing services were curtailed during the strict lockdown.

By July 31 2020, R37.1bn had been disbursed from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), but not all employees received the funds due to them. Ters payments ended on January 31 this year.

The Corruption Watch Covid-19 Ters Corruption at Work report showed that 77 of the reports were from employees who suspected their employees had pocketed the Ters money instead of paying it over to them.

In nine instances, the employer paid employees less Ters funds than received from the department of labour.

“A number of reports detailed how, when employees could not work during lockdown as they were not essential services, the employer treated the continued payment of their salary/wages as a loan while waiting for Ters payouts,” the report said.

It said employees detailed how their employers did not provide pay slips or IRP5 certificates  and/or paid wages in cash.

The report said some complainants alleged this was because their employer was engaging in tax evasion by not paying the tax due to the SA Revenue Service.

“In four cases the reporters outlined how their employer would not claim Ters for them and once they made enquiries, it emerged this was because the employer had never deducted or paid the UIF on their behalf."

In three cases, the employer was deducting UIF but not paying it over.

Corruption Watch said most reports received came from Gauteng (57), followed by Western Cape (15) and KwaZulu-Natal (12).

It said the industries with the most reports were:

  • private security services, closely followed by
  • food and beverage services,
  • fuel sales (petrol stations),
  • transport and logistics, and
  • construction.

It said the players most commonly implicated in corrupt acts related to Ters are payroll officers, company finance personnel and managers, inspectors who took bribes to ignore labour rights breaches, and third parties who offered support to access benefits.

Corruption Watch said the cases it was investigating were not mere administrative errors, but were deliberate acts amounting to fraud and misappropriation of resources

In its recommendations, Corruption Watch said law enforcement officials should continue to recover Ters amounts paid erroneously or due to misrepresentation.

Corruption Watch also called for improved integration of IT systems at the department of labour and across government departments.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fault lines in our society, along with the weaknesses in how funds and benefits are administered and whether they reach the intended beneficiaries,” said Karam Singh, head of legal and investigations at Corruption Watch.

Singh said through this report, Corruption Watch hoped to highlight measures that could be put in place to strengthen the operations of the UIF going forward.

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