UIF and SDL
The existing UIF Act specifies that employees who receive remuneration under a registered learnership agreement are not covered by the Act. This was apparently not what was intended, and the Bill changes this exclusion to employees under a contract of employment contemplated in section 18(2) of the Skills Development Act.
That section covers learnership agreements entered into before a learner is employed by the employer who is entering into the learnership agreement with the learner. This is in accordance with the explanatory memorandum issued with the Bill, which says that this is the intention, and that learners who are already employed when the learnership agreement is entered into are intended to be covered by the UIF Act.
Section 18(2) of the Skills Development Act specifies that an employed must enter into an employment agreement with a learner where the learnership agreement is entered into before the learner is employed by the employer. So when that employment agreement is entered into (presumably shortly after signing the learnership agreement), that learner will still not be covered by the UIF Act.
Partial loss of employment
A contributor who is employed by more than one employer cannot claim any unemployment benefits at present until all jobs are lost.
The Bill provides that:
if the contributor loses some (but not all) jobs; and
the total income of the contributor falls below the benefit level that the contributor would
have been entitled to had all jobs been lost;
he/she will be entitled to UIF benefits;
the benefits plus the total income derived from continued employment may not exceed the benefits that would be paid if the contributor became wholly unemployed.
The explanatory memorandum says that this is intended to help domestic workers with multiple employers. This is to be welcomed, but unfortunately the change is only applicable to domestic workers and not to employees who have multiple employment.
Death of the employer
A new provision is that a domestic worker is entitled to unemployment benefits if employment is terminated due to the death of the employer. This is fine, but why limit it to domestic employees? What about a sole trader who carries on a business and employs workers who will contribute to the UIF – when he dies, are his employees not also entitled to unemployment benefits?
Although not referred to in the new legislation, the Declaration which stipulates the monthly return of employee details, also refers to an invoice which the UIF Commissioner intends issuing to employers requesting payment of the total UIF contribution as stated on the last return received by them.
The submission of the monthly returns will add to the mounting statutory burden that employers must comply with, but will provide the UIF Commissioner with enormous benefits. It is this database, which, if properly implemented, will overcome most of the shortcomings of the old legislation.