As it prepares to pay the first “coronavirus claims”, South Africa’s Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has seen an almost tenfold increase in the number of users visiting its claims site.

A spokesperson of the UIF confirmed to Business Insider South Africa that its electronic claims site,, saw almost 478,000 visits this week as more people find themselves out of work in an economic shutdown. Before the national lockdown, around 50,000 people would visit the site every day.

The fund is now paying out R18 million a day in claims for unemployment, illness, maternity leave, or “reduced working time” (when an employer cut an employee’s hours). This is around R3 million more than before the crisis.

According to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the UIF has paid out R356 million in benefits since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

And this is before the new coronavirus benefit kicks in.

The first new special payouts to employees of companies who have been affected by the coronavirus – called the Covid-19 Temporary Relief or the special Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS) – will begin next week, the spokesperson told Business Insider.

Employees who have been put on unpaid leave during this time, or laid off temporarily, or only received a part of their salary, can get the special payout from the UIF.

A business has to apply to the UIF to get money to pay workers. It will have to prove that it suffered a severe knock from the lockdown. If approved, the UIF will pay out money per worker for up to three months.

The amounts paid will be a percentage of an employee’s salary, according to a legislated sliding scale from 38% (highest earners) to 60% (lowest earners)

The maximum you will get is R6 730 a month. The sliding scale stops at R17 702: All workers earning more than this will only get the 38% maximum benefit (R6 730). The minimum amount will not be below the minimum wage (around R3 500).

Businesses must have been registered with the UIF before the crisis started to qualify for the benefits. The UIF has set aside R40 billion to pay these claims, Ramaphosa said on Thursday.

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