UIF still struggling to fix technical problems in payment of Ters relief
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), the government’s main instrument to cushion workers left without an income due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is still struggling to deal with technical problems, leaving millions of potential recipients without their June payments.
June applications for the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) were closed for a second time in less than a week because of a glitch in the system that shows applicants’ confidential information. After going live again on Monday, the site had to be taken down as problems that emerged last week with the opening of June applications returned.
The UIF said technicians had been running tests on Tuesday and anticipated that it would be up and running within 24 hours so that the fund could start processing June applications from July 1.
It said the problem was with simultaneously running sessions. “When the system runs two or more sessions simultaneously, it swaps the profiles while the users are still busy, which means it fails to run each session consistently till the end.
“The fund has developed a solution to the system to ensure that sessions run consistently till the end without picking information from other users who may be in the system at the same time,” it said.
The relief scheme, which has paid out R26bn to 5.8-million employees to date, has been hit by teething technical issues, including problems with its registration system.
Employment & labour minister Thulas Nxesi and the UIF have put some of the blame on employers who haven’t properly registered their workers.
Almost 1-million workers, who are entitled to a combined R4.2bn, have been left out of pocket since the scheme started because they were not picked out on the UIF system. The latest problems mean millions more risk being unpaid.
Ters and Covid-19 temporary relief grants were established as a key part of the government’s R500bn economic and social relief package to help those affected by a lockdown that’s set to push the economy into its biggest slump in about a century. A report on Tuesday showed that GDP had contracted for three consecutive quarters, the first time it had done so since the global financial crisis a decade ago.
“June is the problem but we still have many unpaid from April, and many that haven’t been processed for May,” said Natalie Singer, an executive at labour consultancy Global Business Solutions and a member of B4SA’s UIF team.
She said the backlog in the UIF system was also caused by overloading of the uFiling system, where employers register and declare employees. In addition, users who were blocked out were struggling to get responses from the fund.
“Processing capacity within
UIF, coupled with glitches, doesn’t help,” Singer said.
It was not clear what the problem was or how it was going to be fixed. As frustrating as it was to have the system completely down, she agreed that it should be closed until the issues were resolved.
She said the data breaches could open the system up to fraud. They further delayed the processing of applications and desperately needed payments for workers.
Long wait: Employees at Formex in Port Elizabeth protest outside the business earlier in June, partly because they had not received their UIF payments.