Hospitality businesses that have barely been able to operate since COVID regulations were implemented in March 2020 are running out of oxygen as they wait for UIF TERS system errors and bottlenecks to be resolved.
“We acknowledge that UIF TERS has paid out billions to businesses and their staff in the past year. We are also grateful that government has designated our sector as one that qualifies for UIF TERS. However, the incredible difficulty that many in the hospitality sector are experiencing to access this only form of financial relief open to us, has left us desperate,” says Rosemary Anderson, FEDHASA National Chairperson.
“For many staff in our sector, UIF TERS is the only lifeline they have and it appears to be hanging on a thread,” says Anderson.
FEDHASA members highlight daily how their experience of the process and system is fraught with inconsistencies and issues. From the call centre number (0800 030 007) being disconnected, or when it was working manned by call centre agents who were not trained to deal with enquiries, to SARS errors which appear to be the cause of thousands of claims not being processed.
“Why should employees and employers who have faithfully contributed to UIF for years – now not be able to access their contributions, now more so when they are desperately needed than in the history of UIF. We must not lose sight that these funds comprise of the employee and employer’s contributions. It is their money.
“It is very wrong for our tourism and hospitality industry not to be able to access their contributions, purely because the call centre number does not work, there are administrative inadequacies and system verification errors between SARS and uFiling,” says Anderson.
Communication coming out of the UIF has been exceptionally disappointing, turnaround times unacceptably long and the process extremely complicated, adds Anderson.
“Our industry has held webinars and offered other forms of advice to try to assist tourism and hospitality businesses to access UIF TERS funds – but what we are told by UIF TERS, appears to work only in theory but not in practice. It is very upsetting to us that we are not able to help our industry – but currently the system our members are trying to access is simply dysfunctional.”
There are definite solutions to the problems currently being experienced, which could be solved with streamlining the process and a real commitment within those in UIF to find the source of the problems and rectify them.
“We are not insensitive to the fact that the UIF must be drowning in applications, appeals and communication from the various sectors affected. We simply ask the UIF to work with us so that we can help to convey better processes to our industry and find solutions to those bottlenecks if we are contributing to them. It will benefit everyone – we are all in the same boat and need to work together.” concludes Anderson.