As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown, the South African Government introduced TERS, the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme. It is a fund designed to provide relief to businesses and workers affected by the situation.
Businesses directly affected by the pandemic that contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and which have had to cut salaries, can apply for TERS relief to help their employees through this tough time.
Here are some key points for anyone who is thinking of applying:
Businesses need to have closed all or some of their operations for three months or less as a result of the pandemic.
Employers must apply on behalf of employees –employees cannot apply for TERS themselves.
Affected employees must have been employed prior to TERS’ commencement date of the 27th of March, 2020.
Any money paid out by the TERS benefit must be used for salaries, and nothing else.
The amounts paid out by TERS are between 38% and 60% of the employees’ salary, but salaries are capped at a maximum of R17,212. If an employee earns more than that, they will only receive between 38% and 60% of R17,212.
Percentages received are determined by a series of calculations, an explanation of which can be found here. Government specifies that the monies paid to employees in this time cannot exceed their full salary (i.e. their lowered salaries + TERS cannot be more than their normal compensation).
Employers can apply for TERS assistance more than once, providing it is for different periods of time.
The Application Process
To apply for TERS assistance, employers must send a ‘request for information’ email to firstname.lastname@example.org to report the total or partial closure of their businesses. They will receive an automated response outlining the next steps, including what documentation is needed for government to consider their application.
Government has created an online portal for this purpose, which can be found here.
All monies are paid out to qualifying employers who have submitted all of the necessary paperwork within 10 business days to employers’ business accounts. Employers must pay employees within 2 days of receiving the funds.
Taking government up on its TERS assistance offer is a good way to help employees affected by any reduction in salary the business has had to implement to keep going while the country is in lockdown.