Pretoria – The Department of Employment and Labour on Thursday said it is making efforts to ensure that domestic workers and farm labourers also receive benefits rolled out by government in the coronavirus (Covid-19) relief scheme.
The scheme, which is part of the basket of government-wide services to ensure that the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic are mitigated, has already dished out billions to workers who may not have a salary as a result of the lockdown.
“Society is judged by how it tries to take care of the most vulnerable in its midst. This is why government in general and the department of employment and labour in particular are doing everything in their power to shield the most vulnerable from the worst of the pandemic,” Nxesi said.
He said since the lockdown was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March, the department, through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), has handed out almost R11 billion in benefits to workers through employers.
“We have appealed to employers, especially those who employ domestic workers and farm labourers, to apply on their behalf so that they are not left wanting.
“We sincerely hope that employers especially in these two sectors heed our call. We have also enlisted the help of a private company, which is helping us trace these workers through their cellphones so that they are aware of the benefit and either get the employers to claim on their behalf or reach out to the UIF themselves,” Nxesi said.
The department said a private company, Interfile, has offered to run the SMS service at no cost to UIF for these sectors. The department is working on the database it has to try to reach these workers.
The department’s records have a total of 91 406 domestic workers on its database but only 2 968 – translating to 3 percent – have their cell numbers listed and only 28 percent have emails.
“We appeal to employers of domestic workers, those who may have difficulties paying them to ensure that they access these services as soon as possible.
“The disbursements from UIF could also act as top-up for reduced salaries and these are necessary for our mothers and sisters as they really need the break,” Nxesi said.
So far, the UIF has disbursed just under R12 billion through 167 524 employers and benefitted 2 092 774 workers.
A total of R155 481 810 has been paid to 56 641 workers through bargaining councils representing 909 employers.