Unemployed people queue for UIF payments. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Unemployed people queue for UIF payments. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

South Africans are seething with frustration at the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF's) new uFiling website, which is still not working properly since its relaunch on 1 April.

It had been down for an overhaul since mid-February.

Makhosonke Buthelezi, the UIF’s director of communication and marketing, says the uFiling website is working but that it has “some challenges”, which the department of labour hopes to resolve by the end of May.

Buthelezi explains that users who want to register their companies and those who submit claims for the first time are able to do so, but those who have been using the system before and want to transact in the new system are experiencing problems, particularly with their historical information.

Comments on the UIF’s Facebook page reflect the dissatisfaction of employers trying to submit their monthly declarations and pay UIF on behalf of workers.

“Terrible upgrade. No support. User manual useless. Seems like you have to go and edit or update all your past history,” Joanna Grochowina writes.

“I cannot pay either. It says I have outstanding declarations,” Susan Esterhuyse says.

Christa Coetser comments: “I must resubmit from March 2014, five years back. We have submitted each month until Jan 2019 before the website change. Where is the data?”

On whether the department of labour is confident that it can recover employee data or whether employers will have to reload it going back to the appointment of each employee, Buthelezi says that the data is not missing: “It is a matter of new business rules embedded in the system that make it seem like it is missing when employers try to retrieve it.”

Buthelezi says employers should submit their queries to ufilingsupport@uif.gov.za, “even though it may take a while before they get a response due to a number of queries”.

He says the fund is aware that employers are struggling to declare and pay contributions since the introduction of the new system. “As such we won’t penalise them for payments that should have been made during the affected period.”

The Unemployment Insurance Fund Act obliges every employer to submit declarations monthly and to pay the required contributions to the department of labour. Failure to do so is a breach of the law and a criminal offence.

Buthelezi confirms that many employers are in “technical” breach of their legal duties due to difficulties with the website, but adds that it is through no fault of their own.

The fund is working on a solution to assist companies to load historical data and continue with payments and declarations as usual. Once the solution is developed and is working, we will be able to account for all payments made and valid claims for unemployment and maternity shall be paid accordingly, Buthelezi says.

The UIF gives short-term financial relief to workers when they become unemployed or are unable to work due to maternity or adoption leave or illness. It also provides relief to the dependants of a deceased contributor.

All employees (barring some exceptions), as well as their employers are responsible for contributions to the UIF at a rate of 1% each within a prescribed period.