A Guide For Small Businesses & COVID-19 UIF Applications

Since the onset of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown, many small businesses in South Africa have had to turn to the UIF and their UIF-COVID-19 TERs National Disaster Application System to support their staff during this crisis. 

Currently, the UIF application process has been laid out in an easy-to-digest fashion on the official website; however, many business owners have found it challenging to get their applications processed and paid out for the benefit of their workforces. 

That being said, in this piece, we’ll explore a popular route for breezing through the application process and benefitting from the COVID-19 TERS initiative.

Before reading further, do note that these are continually changing processes, so we recommend always being vigilant as to any changes to the application process overall. 

What is the COVID-19 TERS Benefit? 

This benefit is for employers who need to apply for the Temporary Relief Scheme on behalf of their registered employees to be paid out a percentage of their overall payroll costs. Follow the application process, if successful, employers can distribute any funds paid out by TERS to any impacted employees. 

What Criteria Do You Need To Meet To Qualify?

Employers qualify to apply if they meet the following criteria: 

  1. The Employer has, as a direct effect of the current COVID-19 pandemic, had no choice to cease operations, as a part of its operations, for 3 months or a lesser period. 

  2. The employees impacted were in employment on 27 March 2020, and must have suffered, or could suffer, a loss of income as a result of the business closure. 

  3. The Employer needs to have been registered with the UIF before the onset of the pandemic. 

How Much Will You Get Paid? 

Before diving into the next 5 points note that there are currently various calculations which have been published, but only in the event of a successful application will you be able to ascertain how much you will be reimbursed. 

  1. Any amount paid will be a percentage of an Employers salary, per a sliding scale from as high as 38% (highest earners) to 60% for the lowest earners.

  2. The maximum amount payable is R6,730 per month. The sliding scale comes to a stop at R17 702, meaning workers who more than this will only get the maximum benefit of 38% (R6,730).

  3. The minimum amount does drop below the minimum wage of R3,500.

  4. Should an employer be able to afford to pay employees partially, TERS will top up the outstanding balance, however, employees cannot earn more than their current salaries. (as in the wage they were making before the pandemic). 

  5. COVID-19 TERS currently covers the lockdown period the nation is presently under. 

How To Apply As A Qualifying Employer:

  1. Visit

  2. Register above.

  3. Log in and follow the automated site prompts. You will be required to provide your employer UIF reference number, trade name as well as your contact details. 

  4. Next, upload a confirmation of your business bank account as a PDF.

  5. Provide evidence/payroll details as proof of the last three months employee salaries.

  6. Add all the details of each employee you are applying on behalf of. TERS requires all employee ID numbers or passport numbers for foreign nationals. 

How To Navigate The Process With Ease. 

Currently, there are several unreliable email addresses which have been a significant concern for business owners trying to apply for the benefit. There are many email addresses which business owners are prompted to send documentation to, to process their UIF applications. However, this process relies on a human who potentially handles hundreds, if not thousands of applications. We recommend using the online COVID-19 TERS application system. Think about it: how does one person or team handle thousands of UIF applications. They don’t; instead, it is done via a computerised, automated system. 

Simply register as an Employer/Company and select the “Pay to Employer” option. Should your business have many employees, one method available is to simply upload a CSV file which contains all your relevant information. That being said, you might notice that these do take a notable amount of time to reflect on your profile. If it appears this way to you, it’s more than likely that these applications end up in an automated queue for human processing, so we suggest trying another approach should this occur in your case. 

A popular way which has been cited to work is adding each employee individually. Batch uploading is faster and easier, but many have stated that going the individual-upload route to be the best way to enable the UIF database to update in real-time. 

If you’ve had to lay off employees, or are in the process of doing so, we recommend adding R0.00 for their salaries during the lockdown. We recommend this popular method for three reasons: 

  1. Every employee will qualify for the standard UIF benefits, should TERS services be stopped and you’re unable to pay them. By doing this, your employees can immediately claim from UIF via or via a manual submission or email. 

  2. In the scenario of a lay-off, every employee has a right to their position if or when the business recovers to a point whereby the said company can re-employ an employee. (Lay-offs give a person the right, while retrenchment is permanent with no right to the position in the future.)

  3. The UIF was expected to have delays in paying out benefits, so we recommended structuring your applications this way so that you can advance your team members their wages or salaries and then reduce this loan amount from the amount paid by the UIF. Of course, this means your team member owes your business anything you may have paid above the UIF benefit, as it is technically a loan. However, it’s a sound strategy to effectively take care of every person in your business through the rest of the pandemic, and you should write off the balance in the future. 

Once you’ve successfully added as many as ten employees (should you have this many), we suggest clicking “Check and Submit” and then add more employees in batches of 10 to avoid time wastage and site crashes. 

One of our guest writers claimed to have submitted their application on a Saturday evening and received payment the following Tuesday using this method, so the turnaround is pretty fast. However, we have heard from others that their non-South African team members encountered error reports; “No ID found.” From our understanding, the UIF is unable to process Foreign Passport employees automatically, however, it does allow you to submit via the online application system. Due to foreign employees not being paid, the UIF requires employers to send three months proof of payroll with the U19 form to another bulk email address, and we anticipate that the UIF will eventually update their site software allow for the processing of the integration between their application system and their records of foreign employees which they already possess.


Should you not have your UIF number and need to double-check it, input your PAYE number here, and you’ll receive your UIF number instantly. If you need to find out whether you’ve been paid or how much you’ve been paid, simply insert your UIF number here, and you’ll be able to see your payment status instantly. 

One last tip, for the direct email addresses of the Regional Heads for Employment & Labour Centres, click here. 

  • government
  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • UIF
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