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COVID-19: South Africa – TERS benefit extended for certain categories of employees

14 August 2020
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The TERS benefit for certain employees is extended until 15 August 2020. The Direction allowing the extension was signed on 12 August 2020.

The categories of employees who may claim benefits in respect of the period 1 July 2020 to 15 August 2020 are those whose employers are:

  • not yet permitted to commence operations, either partially or in full, as a result of the Regulations published in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2002, such as restaurants and gyms;
  • unable to implement special measures in respect of vulnerable employees, or to make alternative arrangements for them to work from home; and
  • unable to make use of the employees’ services either fully or partially because of operational requirements, in particular, the need to limit the number of employees at the workplace through rostering, staggering of working hours, short time, and the introduction of shift systems.

‘Vulnerable employees’ are those with known or disclosed health issues or comorbidities or any other condition that may place them at a higher risk of complications or death than other employees if infected with COVID-19, or those above the age of 60 years who are also at a higher risk of complications or death if infected.

The Direction prescribes a slightly different method of calculation than what applied in terms of the original March Directive. In particular, clauses 3.5, 3.6 and 5.3 are amended:

  • In terms of the revised clause 3.5, subject to clause 3.6 and 5.3, a qualifying employee will receive a benefit calculated in terms of section 13(1) of the Unemployment Insurance Act.
  • Clause 3.6 provides that should the benefit calculated in clause 3.5 together with any remuneration earned fall below ZAR 3 500, the benefit will be increased to ensure that the employee receives ZAR 3 500.
  • In terms of clause 5.3, an employee may only receive COVID-19 TERS benefits in terms of the Direction if the total of the benefit together with any remuneration paid by the employer for work performed by the employee in any period is not more than the remuneration that the employee would ordinarily have received for working during that period.

The term ‘remuneration’ refers to this term as defined in section 35(5) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Schedule on Remuneration published in terms of this section. This means, inter alia, that goodwill payments by an employer (such as gratuities or discretionary amounts that are not related to the employee’s performance of hours of work) are not regarded as ‘remuneration’.

Accordingly, if an employer pays an employee an amount as a gesture of goodwill (and not in respect of work performed), or if the employee utilizes her/his annual leave, or the employer advances a loan, such amounts are not remuneration. When the application for the benefit is made, such amounts must accordingly not be declared as ‘income’ or ‘remuneration’ received.

We have been informed that applications for the period 1 July to 15 August 2020 will open on 17 August 2020.