On 9 October 2015, the Minister of Labour published an explanatory summary of the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill, 2015 ("the Bill") and also gave notice of intention to introduce the Bill in the National Assembly.
There is no doubt that if the Bill is passed in its current form, unemployed persons will have far greater access to and improved UIF benefits.
Some of the noteworthy proposed amendments are set out below:
- UIF will be extended to learners who are undergoing learnership training.
- Employees who lose part of their income due to reduced working hours (for example, short time) will be entitled to claim benefits.
- The maximum accrual of 238 days will be increased to 365 days (to increase the rate at which benefits accrue).
- The time period within which to submit a claim for UIF will increase from 6 months to 12 months.
- The provision of maternity benefits for employees who suffer a miscarriage.
- The provision that maternity benefits must be paid at a flat rate of 66% of the last earnings of an employee.
- Allowing contributors to the Fund to nominate their beneficiaries in cases of death benefits.