The press statement that came from Business 4 SA last week to announce that agreement with labour and the government had been reached on the special Covid-19 layoff benefit contained a telling line: “We hope we have established a system that will be able to deliver these benefits with optimal efficiency.” Therein lies the rub.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has a reputation for being inefficient. Individual claimants have complained for years about the amount of time spent queueing and the number of visits needed to secure their benefits. The Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters), on which the Covid-19 scheme is based, can take so long with approving employers and getting the money to flow that the business has gone under by the time it does...

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