The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), an entity of the Department of Employment and Labour has embarked on a series of visits to local hospitals in the North West Province to provide administrative support to pregnant women with the aim of expediting Maternity Benefit claims.
The visits aim to empower clients with information that will enable them to better understand UIF processes, timelines, and benefit criteria, as the lack of such knowledge frequently results in claims delays and customer annoyance. This is part of UIF's ongoing efforts to improve the quality of its services to clients. There have already been a few visits in the past week, and more are planned for the final week of August 2023, which is also dedicated to Women's Month.
The maternity benefit is a temporary financial relief benefit paid out by the UIF to female contributors during their pregnancy, delivery and the period thereafter, as prescribed by the Unemployment Insurance Act. The Act provides that an employer and employee should each contribute 1% of the employee's gross monthly salary to the UIF in order to qualify for UIF benefits.
According to UIF Commissioner, Teboho Maruping, the maternity benefit was designed to provide temporary relief to female contributors during their maternity leave when there is a partial or full loss of salary as a result of maternity leave. Maruping said that very often female workers forfeit this benefit because they are not well informed about it.
“The application for benefits must be made at any time before or after childbirth, provided that it is made within 12 months after the date of childbirth and the contributor is already on maternity leave," said Maruping.
"As the UIF we have found that due to a lack of information, some of our new mothers often forfeit this benefit, and hence we have decided to embark on visits to local hospitals to ensure that we reach out to female workers who are in the latter period of pregnancy, during hospital visits," advised Maruping.
Maternity benefits are paid at a rate of 66% of the earnings of a contributor as at the date of application, subject to the maximum ceiling. The benefits are payable for a maximum period of 121 days, subject to sufficient available credits having been accumulated by the contributor.
To qualify for the benefit, a contributor must have been in employment for a period of 13 weeks prior to the date of application for benefits.
Maternity benefits are de-linked from other benefits that are payable to clients, provided that the benefit application was lodged before any other benefit type. A contributor who has a miscarriage during the third trimester or bears a stillborn child is entitled to full maternity benefits subject to the availability of credit days.
Commissioner Maruping indicated that contributors should not be afraid to visit the Department of Employment & Labour to lodge an application for benefits or utilise online platforms such as UFiling, if their employers are not complying with the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act.
"In instances where there is non-compliance by employers, the Department will deploy inspectors to deal with such matters. We will not prejudice female workers or deny them their benefits if contributions have been deducted from them on a monthly basis," concluded Maruping
For enquiries kindly contact:
Provincial Communication Officer
Department of Employment & Labour: North West
Cell: 082 497 7438 or email@example.com
Issued by: Department of Employment and Labour
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