As a South African citizen and a mom you are eligible for maternity benefits through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) that you contribute to monthly.
You can claim from the fund should your employer pay you a lower salary during your maternity leave.
So they do not experience financial shortfalls, the UIF receives millions of claims from new moms.
The idea is that mothers should not carry the burden of not having enough money for themselves or their children. Unfortunately, this plays out differently in reality.
The fact is many women wait months without receiving the funds, some returning to work without having received their payout.
So, what is contributing to this big inconvenience?
According to human resources manager Nthabiseng Phama, a combination of internal process delays and documentation inconsistencies play a major role.
Claiming for maternity benefits from the UIF is a documentation intensive process.
You need the following documents:
- 13-digit barcoded ID or passport
- form UI-2.8 for banking details
- form UI-2.7
- form UI-2.3 (application form)
- medical certificate from a doctor or birth certificate of the baby and form UI-4 (follow-up form)
These forms have to be filled correctly to the latter, or there will be a kickback. This could lead to a lot of going back and forth and so has to be done right. In a lot of cases, the department fills the information in manually and this causes a delay.
“If all required documents are submitted and are correct, the Department of Labour schedules the payments,” says Nthabiseng.
Are the payments scheduled on time?
Founder of Sweet Dreamz Kelly Painczyk says: “There is an excess of 1.5 million claims at the moment for UIF.”
Sweet Dreamz is an agency that helps mothers claim UIF. During lockdown, the Department of Labour was administering the Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Covid-19 TERS) payments to help businesses and workers. So far, R5.1 billion has been distributed just more than 1 million businesses.
Adding extra funds to the UIF has contributed to the delays experienced when claiming and waiting for a maternity payout.
According to Kelly, this delay is not experienced by everyone in the country. For instance, a client who claimed on 11 March has now received her first payout today on 31 March.
HR professional Shelley Cohen says some of her female employees have come back from maternity leave without a single payout.
“We are glad that the TERS benefit is finished, although there are some other social grants still going through the UIF. We are even suggesting that employees use agencies to claim the funds, although they are also experiencing the same delays.”
Apply for UIF online or at the DOL?
“Lines are starting at midnight at the offices,” Kelly says to those looking at claiming physically.
Shelley suggests you get there at 6.30am for 8.00am. “If you get there at 3.00pm, you will not be allowed in,” she says.
DOL offices are taking 50 people at a time due to lockdown restrictions. Some moms are doing return trips because they did not make the cut-off time the previous day.
It is always better to speak to a real human, but a new breastfeeding mother might not have the capacity to stand in the line from midnight. Partners can help, but if they have work commitments as well this might be a challenge.
Kelly acknowledges that online is always best, but the system does have its challenges. “A user must create the profile correctly, or the registration will be locked.”
“We make sure that a claim is submitted correctly the first time,” Kelly says. Agencies cannot guarantee when a payout will be scheduled but can guarantee that all your paperwork will be submitted on time and correctly.
*We were unable to reach the director of UIF communication & marketing for comment before publication.