The Department of Labour has made provisions to assist employers and employees during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a specific view to mitigate loss of income during the nationwide lock down. Employers who are completely or partially shut down as a result of the lock down can claim via the TERS benefit, but this is not the only assistance available to employees.
Special provisions have been made in the case where an employee needs to self-quarantine due to exposure to someone who is infected or could possibly be infected with Covid-19. In such an instance, the employee would need to claim from the UIF Illness Benefit and this would be processed as Special Leave by the employer, not coming off the employee’s sick leave. This leave is specifically to allow the employee time off to self-quarantine for 14 days, to determine whether they develop symptoms of Covid-19 or whether they test positive for the illness. This 14 day period may be extended at the direction of a medical practitioner.
To apply for the Illness benefit, the employee must submit to UIF the completed UI19 indicating code 10 as the reason for the claim, the UI2.7 completed by the employer, the UI2.2 completed in full except for the medical portion, a UI2.8 completed by the bank, a bank statement, or a confirmation letter from the bank, and a copy of the employee’s ID document. Instead of the medical portion on the UI2.2, the employee must submit confirmation letters from both the employer and the employee as proof that the parties agreed to the 14 days special leave. This is accepted instead of a medical certificate as the employee is self-quarantined without first consulting a medical practitioner.
If the employee is advised to remain in self-quarantine beyond the initial 14 day period by a medical practitioner, but they are not yet confirmed to be ill, the employee must submit a UI3 continuation form along with a medical certificate at the end of the initial 14 day period to extend the benefit.
Where the employee is confirmed to be ill with Covid-19 and is deemed unfit for work, the employee must be granted sick leave in terms of the company’s sick leave policy and their contract of employment. Such sick leave is fully paid as long as the employee has sick leave available. Once sick leave is exhausted, the employee may again claim from the UIF Illness benefit. This benefit applies if the employee’s normal paid sick leave entitlement is exhausted, and the employee is booked off for longer than seven days.
In this case, the employee must submit the completed UI19 and UI2.7 completed by the employer, the UI2.8 completed by the bank, a medical certificate along with an amplifying medical report, and a follow-up form. If the employee’s illness persists for an unreasonable period of time, or impacts on the company’s operations, it is recommended that the normal incapacity process for ill health be followed.
The UIF formula of 38-60% of the UIF salary cap of R17 712 will be applied, and the employee’s period of contribution to the UIF fund as well as the previous times they claimed from the fund will be taken into account to determine what benefit they will receive. If the employer chooses to partially pay an employee during this period, the UI benefit amount may be reduced by that amount.