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‘Employers trying to shift burden of lockdown’


Some employers resisting UIF payment route for out-of-work employees

EMPLOYMENT and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has revealed that they were receiving resistance from some employers in connection with the payment of workers through the financial assistance the department has provided through the Covid-19 relief scheme.

Nxesi said that they were receiving concerns from workers and unions that some employers were seeking to shift the burden of the lockdown onto the workers by using their annual leave as the first line of response to the lockdown.

“This is despite the fact that we have said that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) will fund and put in place systems to address the lay-offs during the lockdown in relation to workers registered for UIF.

“It is important that all parties understand that the UIF cannot deal with millions of individual claims – this would lead to chaos.” 

Nxesi also said his department has put in place systems to pay out UIF benefits through companies, sectoral associations and bargaining councils.

The Textile Bargaining Council has already concluded such an agreement with labour, he said.

“We need to stress that such arrangements require that we enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with employer bodies, including that their use of the monies will be subject to an audit.

“This has led to some resistance from some employers. 

“They need to understand that these are public funds that by law have to be audited. None of us have a choice in the matter.” 

The minister also threatened to name and shame companies that do not provide their workers with the required personal protective clothing.

“At this stage, we are urging these employers to do the right thing. By next week, we will start to name and shame individual companies and branches. 

“The seriousness of the present crisis calls upon all of us to rise to the occasion and comply fully with the conditions and regulations of the lockdown.” 

The department, Nxesi said, has received numerous complaints from workers that some employers were forcing them to work without the necessary personal protective equipment.

He said inspectors have been following up complaints largely in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

“The inspectors are also finding violations of existing health and safety regulations. 

“Indeed, a retail outlet and a manufacturing plant were closed down on day one of the lockdown.”

Nxesi added that the inspectors were being accompanied by SAPS and Department of Trade and Industry officials.

“The reason for the latter is that some employers have fraudulent certificates declaring that they can continue to operate as essential 


“The inspectorate will issue a daily report on their findings.”

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