A survey of 250 accountants shows less than 10% are satisfied with the way the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) relief programme is being run.
This is according to a survey conducted in July by Saiba.
A total of 22 respondents (8.8%) said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the way the programme was being run.
The vast majority (72.8%) are not satisfied, while 18.4% expressed no view on the performance of the UIF/TERS payout system.
The reasons for the overwhelming dissatisfaction range from UIF computer systems being offline at critical times, to changing rules for registration and claims, and lack of response from UIF personnel (falling under the Department of Labour).
“Despite our best efforts to get the UIF Commissioner to address these member concerns, we have not as yet been successful,” says Saiba CEO Nicolaas van Wyk. “Accountants are at the frontline of the lockdown, assisting their clients in keeping their businesses alive. We therefore want to be able to assist them in any way we can to ensure the economy as able to get back on its feet. It was for this reason that we undertook the survey to get first-hand insights to the experience of accountants. Clearly, the results speak for themselves. We would like to assist the UIF Commissioner in any way we can so we can get the system functioning as efficiently as possible.”
The following comment from an accountant at a large practice sums up the frustrations expressed by many others: “The whole UIF/TERS process was very frustrating for me and my clients alike. The rules chopped and changed a lot in the beginning with no clear, up-to-date instructions issued prior to the first TERS (Temporary Employee / Employer Relief Scheme) application.
“There has been a lot of duplication of work with documents needing to be sent via email and then again having to be uploaded on the website. The U-filing website is by far the biggest bugbear. If we could just get hold of someone or have our emails returned from the support desk it would help.”
Many clients complain that they have still not been paid for April due to U-filing not being up-to-date. This has locked them out of the U-filing system, and to regain access they need a password reset. Some have been waiting two months for this.
The system seems mired in confusion, with some clients being paid (and sometimes not fully) while others are still waiting – despite all client documentation being submitted at the same time.
What is clear from the survey results is that those accounting firms with 50 or more clients are least satisfied. Some 78 of accountants surveyed represented 50 or more clients, but only seven of these expressed satisfaction with the process.
Among some of the more common complaints from those dissatisfied with the process:
- For some employees, the UIF system shows “ID not found”, however documents were verified by the Department of Home Affairs. The IDs are valid. However, these employees are rejected and not paid. No success in getting the issue resolved.
- UIF registrations of clients and employees sent to the UIF head office in Pretoria before lockdown had not been captured on the computer system.
- Accountants wanted answers on how UIF/TERS will be paid out for foreign nationals once the UIF is satisfied that they are compliant.
- The amount of time the online system was offline.
- “I do not have many UIF clients, yet I have been unable to help them claim at all. I have brought in third party companies that specialise in UIF and they have been unable to sort out issues. Nothing on the system works and I have clients whose employees have been waiting months without any payouts.”
- TERS Claims are inconsistent, says another respondent. “Some of the applications that were successful in April were declined in May, even though the employee is reflecting on U-filing. The errors in the system create additional manual work. The centres do not respond to email. Not even an acknowledgement. It feels that there is no structure at the Department of Labour without guidance. They, in turn, blame employers when the main fault lies at the Department.”
- Only the four major banks were listed as options (for receipt of payouts). The other banks were listed as “Other” and then the claim was rejected for banking details.
- UIF/TERS promises made to the employees were not met. Employees are told that they will receive their money within 24 hours, but the employers’ applications are not processed within 24 hours.
- “Very frustrating and we can’t even make payment. Why does everyone have to be on U-filing when we submit electronic declarations from our monthly payrolls?”
- Individuals cannot call to inquire and emails are not responded to.
- They should release the UIF registration process in full so that everyone will know how to make declarations.
Some 130 of the accountants surveyed were from Gauteng, of which 76 were “not satisfied” with the way the system is being run; only 11 said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the system.
Of the 46 accountants surveyed from the Western Cape, only 2 expressed satisfaction. A total of 23 respondents from Kwazulu-Natal, with only 3 expressing satisfaction. This reflects the general view of accountants across the country, with little variance in responses based on region.