The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly Changes of the new UIF Act
September 26, 2019
On 1 January 2019 the new UIF amendments came into effect. Most of the changes are very positive for people trying to claim UIF but Government sneaked in some amendments which were not noticed at the beginning but show their ugly faces now, a couple of months later.
The most positive change was that the UIF benefits for maternity claims increased dramatically. Up to December last year the maximum a mother could hope to receive was about R6500 per month. Now it's R11500 per month. That is obviously amazing.
Another positive change was that a mother now had 12 months (from date of birth) to submit a claim. This however has proven to be very controversial because there is another clause which says that an applicant has to be employed for at least 3 months in the last 12 months by the time a claim is submitted.
To understand the complications we offer an example. If a mother started her maternity leave on 1 October 2018, gave birth on 12 Oct 2018 and submitted a claim on 23 August 2019 then there is a good chance the UIF would have rejected the claim. They reason that the mother had to be employed for 3 months prior to the start of her maternity leave but within the last 12 months before applying. The last 3 months were July, August and September 2018 but because she applied on 23 August 2019 she didn't work those 13 weeks in the last 12 months.
It just doesn't make sense!
And it gets worse for many applicants who don't work full-time jobs or resign after their maternity leave. The UIF assumes those 3 months to be about 60 working days at 8 hours per day. If an applicant only works half-day (let's say she is a Kindergarten teacher) then the UIF says she has to be employed for 6 months in the last 12 months.
We had a client who went on maternity leave on 21 January 2019. She has been working 100 hours per month. The claim was submitted on 19 June 2019 and refused because she didn't work the 13 full-time weeks in the last 12 months before applying.
We have appealed on numerous occasion but not once was a claim approved on appeal.
We have seen email communication from officials at labour centres to the provincial head office and it is clear that most officials don't understand the changes. The problem is that once the claim details are captured an algorithm calculates if a claim is approved or not. The system looks at the employment details (how long the lady worked and contributed to UIF, her working hours, her last day at work, the date of claim submission and so on) and then spits out the result. This can't be changed by the officials and nobody I talked to understands in most cases how exactly it is calculated.
Unfortunately we had about 5 claims this year which were rejected for reasons we believe are not based on the new Act but rather on the wrong implementation of the new Act. For example the new Act does say a woman has to be employed for 3 months in a 12 months cycle, but it does not say that this has to be done while employed full-time and it also doesn't say whether the employment needs to be before or after the maternity leave.
We are there to help you and we recommend that you get your UIF paperwork completed before your maternity leave so that the claim can be submitted as soon as you started the maternity leave. Trust us when we say it is much easier completing everything before the baby arrives. The last thing you want to do is have your baby and then have to deal with UIF admin.