Freelancers Get Nothing From UIF And Are Not Happy
Government has set up relief schemes through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to assist individuals with finances during the pandemic which sees many businesses have to temporarily close their doors. However, freelancers cannot benefit from these grants
The Department of Employment and Labour in conjunction with the Unnemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has set up relief schemes such as the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) and the National Disaster Fund to provide for employees who are not allowed to work during this pandemic.
The TERS fund was created so that employers would not lose their jobs and to avoid seeing businesses having to close their doors. The National Disaster Fund was set up so that employers could apply for funds to pay employees through UIF if they could not afford to pay salaries.
However, the Department of Employment and Labour has stated, “Unfortunately, commission earners and freelance employees are not contributors to the UIF and therefore, they do not qualify for this benefit.”
This has caused anger amongst freelancers and commission workers and have made them feel neglected by their country. They thought government would provide like they did for everyone else but freelancers, in trying to apply for grants, find that they are not allowed to benefit from those set up by government.
They believe that they should be able to benefit from grants as they contribute to job creation in South Africa and also pay tax. Now, they are left to sit at home with no income due to not meeting the criteria. Some of these individuals are parents and breadwinners of households but are now not able to provide.
Freelancers have stated that “SARS must stop taking our money if freelancers aren’t recognised as a group in this country” and feel forgotten by their country. One freelancer even said, “the President barely even makes a statement about freelancers.”
Minister Thulas Nxesi of Employment and Labour addressed this issue and said that freelancers fall outside of those eligible and that they “can’t do something illegal”. He has said that, “after this, we need to re-look at it in terms of legislative amendments” and that a debate can be started on it. This is however being seen as dismissive and is not providing for the current situation.
Many talks have taken place to have more rights be given to freelancers but no changes have been made when they want to be treated as everyone else would be. A freelancer in media has said, “No report back or handover was done from the previous team. These freelancers could be earning royalties from their work playing on your TV screens right now had you, Mr President, signed that bill that’s been sitting on your desk.”
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