9 things every South African should know about government’s financial relief scheme and their job

by Business Tech14 April 2020

The Department of Labour has published a new directive around its Covid-19 Temporary Employee/Temporary Employer Scheme (TERS), introducing a number of new amendments and regulations for South African businesses. The TERS is one of the key measures that government is using to financially support employers and employees during the coronavirus lockdown, with the new directive providing further clarification on the new scheme and the rights of employers and employees. Below law firm Werksmans outlined the salient aspects of the TERS and how the new amendments impact the labour market. 1. Due to Covid-19 employees may be laid off temporarily and not paid, either fully or in part. 2. Whilst employers are encouraged to pay employees during this period they are not obliged to do so. 3. Where it is not economically possible for employers to pay employees, either fully or at all, a special benefit fund has been set up under the auspices of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) – the TERS. 4. A company which has had to close its operations, or a part thereof, for a period of three months or less as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic will qualify for TERS benefit, provided that: The company is registered with the UIF; The company must comply with the application procedure for TERS; and The company’s closure must be directly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. 5. The benefit shall be de-linked from the UIF’s normal benefits and therefore the normal rule that for every four days worked the employee accumulates a one day’s credit and the maximum credit days payable is 365 for every four years will not apply. 6. The benefit will only be for the cost of salary for employees during the temporary closure. 7. The benefit an employee can receive under this scheme will be capped to a maximum amount of R6 730.56 per month per employee. The maximum salary to be taken into account in calculating the benefits will be R17,712.00 per month and the employee will be paid in terms of the income replacement sliding scale (38%-60%) as provided for in the Unemployment Insurance Act. 8. An employer may then top up the benefits for an employee provided the employee does not end up receiving more than 100% of his/her ordinary salary taking into account any payments received from the UIF in terms of the TERS. 9. Employers must apply by reporting their closure via email to Covid19ters@labour.gov.za. An automatic response, which has recently been updated, will be generated setting out the application process. The employer will be required to submit various documents including a letter of undertaking from the company and a signed memorandum of agreement. You can read more about the directives and how to apply for the scheme here. Read: South Africa needs a long-term coronavirus strategy – including the re-opening of takeaways and other stores

 

Ramaphosa needs to ignore call to unban alcohol: parliamentary chairperson

by Business Tech 14 April 2020

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to ignore calls from business to sell liquor during the lockdown. Dhlomo said people who consume alcohol ‘predispose themselves to become drunk’ and will hinder the country’s efforts to control the coronavirus during the lockdown. “A person who is under the influence of alcohol has a poor sense of judgement for the environment, space and time. This lockdown period does not need people who have poor sense of judgement,” he said. Dhlomo said the committee commends President Ramaphosa’s call which includes banning the sale of alcohol during the lockdown period. “The President should not give those who want to sell alcohol space to do so as that might predispose them to being exposed to the pandemic unaware.” “The lockdown is a safe way that the President has called for where the sale of alcohol is not allowed. We urge the President not to heed the call of selling alcohol during the national state of disaster. “This is for the good of the country, for the control of the coronavirus, and the good for the control of any social ill.” Dhlomo’s comments come after the Liquor Forum in Gauteng sent an open letter to Ramaphosa asking him to lift the ban because of the damage done to businesses. The Sunday Times has reported that the national command council – led by Ramaphosa – will discuss industry proposals to ease some of the lockdown restrictions, including lobbies from the tobacco and alcohol sectors, and a call to allow fast food shops to reopen. “The results of these discussions are expected to be taken to the cabinet later in the week, where a raft of proposals that include a comprehensive financial package geared at scaling up the production of essential goods will be tabled,” the paper said.

 

Uber launches delivery app for businesses in South Africa

by Business Tech 8 April 2020

Uber says it has launched a delivery solution for South African retailers who can now deliver essential goods using the Uber app. Over the past few weeks, South African retailers and companies have been forced to significantly change the way they do business and serve customers as a result of Covid-19 pandemic. With the government introducing a 21-day National lockdown requiring people to stay at home, the demand for delivery of essential items is rapidly accelerating, Uber said in a statement on Wednesday (8 April). At the same time, demand from the business community for delivery services to help them keep up with consumer demand has dramatically increased, it noted. “In response, today Uber is offering a delivery service for businesses, leveraging its logistics technology and network of drivers to provide retailers and businesses with a seamless way to offer their customers delivery.” A delivery solution Uber said its delivery service aims to provide businesses of all sizes with a delivery solution for their customers. “From stores such as supermarkets, grocers and pharmacies, any business that needs to provide a delivery service to customers can easily sign-up and immediately start offering delivery in a matter of days. “Businesses can also manage multiple orders with one account and track their deliveries in real-time, ensuring customer deliveries arrive on time and intact,” it said. New income opportunities for driver-partners With over 13,000 registered and professional drivers with the necessary permits to travel during the lockdown, Uber said its delivery service is also providing much needed incremental income opportunities for drivers and retailers. “Using Uber’s technology and logistics expertise for deliveries not only unlocks new income opportunities for drivers, but importantly allows businesses to continue serving communities safely and reliably across South Africa, at a time when many are unable to leave their homes,” said Alon Lits, GM of Uber Sub Saharan Africa.

 

WhatsApp is making changes to its messaging system to curb coronavirus fake news

by Business Tech 8 April 2020

WhatsApp says it will make changes to the way its messaging system works in an effort to curb the spread of fake news around the coronavirus. The group said in a statement on Tuesday (7 April), that this will include limitations on the number of times that a message can be forwarded to other contacts. “Last year we introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times,” it said. “These messages are labelled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact. In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp. We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.” WhatsApp noted that it has previously set limits on forwarded messages to constrain virality, which led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time. It said that while the forwarding of messages is not ‘bad’ it has seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users said can feel ‘overwhelming’ and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. “We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation,” it said. “In addition to this change, we are working directly with NGOs and governments, including the World Health Organization and over 20 national health ministries, to help connect people with accurate information. “Together these trusted authorities have sent hundreds of millions of messages directly to people requesting information and advice,” WhatsApp said.