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How To: Claim UIF benefits for maternity leave

Sizile Makola
Find out what benefits you are entitled to, and how to claim them during maternity leave.
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If there’s one thing almost every pregnant woman in South Africa is confused about, it’s how to claim Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) maternity benefits. This is one of those situations where an expert’s opinion can make an enormous difference. Sizile Makola from My Claim Mate (www.myclaimmate.co.za), a professional nationwide partner for claiming from the UIF, gives us all the necessary tips to make the claiming process quick and easy.

Who benefits from UIF?

The purpose of the UIF is to assist people who lose their jobs or who stop receiving a salary for a period of time, because of pregnancy, illness or adopting a child (under two years old).
There are five types of benefits that one can apply for, but we’ll just focus on:

  • Maternity benefits: You are allowed to take four consecutive months of maternity leave to take care of your newborn baby. You can apply for this benefit even if you have a miscarriage. In this case you claim for six weeks. 
  • Adoption benefits: You can apply for this benefit when you adopt a child under the age of two years in terms of the Child Care Act. This is if you take unpaid leave or you are only receiving a portion of your salary while you are at home caring for your child. Only one of the adoptive parents can claim.  
Who can’t benefit from UIF?

Now that you know about the benefits that you can claim for, it is important to know whether or not you meet the requirements to claim. You are not able claim if you:

  • Work less than 24 hours a month.
  • Are a learner (a student at high school or university).
  • Work for the government.
  • Get a monthly old age government pension.
  • Only earn commission.
  • Are self-employed.
Not all maternity leave claims are successful. There are a number of reasons why your maternity leave claim will be rejected, namely if you resign from your job (unless the resignation is seen as a constructive dismissal by the CCMA (www.ccma.org.za) - the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration – that’s a mouthful!) However, if you resign while pregnant, you can still claim for maternity benefits. If you have been suspended or absconded from work, you are obviously not eligible to claim UIF. If UIF is not deducted from your salary every month, you cannot claim. And if you are a Sole Proprietor (i.e. self-employed) you will not be able to claim.

What are the new rules of UIF?
In 2010, the UIF made some significant changes with regards to who can claim from UIF.These are:

  • Non-South Africans (with a valid work permit) are able to claim on the condition that they have been making the necessary contributions.
  • Business owners of registered Close Corporations can now also claim for UIF, provided that they have been contributing to UIF.
  • Previously it was not possible to claim maternity benefits several times within a four year period. This has changed and you can now claim again within the four year period. However, if you have claimed the illness benefit or the retrenchment benefit within the four year period, you will not be able to claim for maternity benefits.
  • If you resign while pregnant or when you go on maternity leave, you can still claim your maternity benefits.
  • The amount of money that you will get from the fund is calculated in one of two ways:
  • If you were contributing to the UIF every month, you must multiply your monthly remuneration by 12 and then divide it by 365.
  • If you were contributing every week, you must multiply your weekly remuneration by 52 and divide it by 365.
How do you make a claim?
Making a claim to the UIF is easy once you know which steps to follow:

  • Complete the relevant application forms.
  • Submit your valid identity document or passport. 
  • Submit the employer's details on form UI.19.
Once the Labour Office has received your documents, they will:
  • Investigate your application and if necessary, request further information.
  • Approve your application (if it meets all requirements).
  • Determine the amount of benefits.
  • Authorise the payment of the benefits.
If your application does not meet the requirements, the claims officer must let you know in writing that your application was not successful, and what it was missing.

As with any governmental office, there are a number of things that can cause delays or refusal to pay the claim. Many of these are easy to prevent. Make sure that you:

  • Complete all forms in full and correctly (e.g. complete the correct dates, include your doctor’s practice number, make sure there are no overlapping employment dates etc.).
  • Give your correct bank account details and ensure that the account is active.
  • Provide the correct supporting documents that are required (e.g. copies of ID, payslips etc.)
Although it might seem as if claiming UIF maternity benefit is just one more thing on your already long To Do List before your baby is born, it can help to ease the months when you are not working. With these great tips, you should be well on your way to being one of the only pregnant women in South Africa not confused about this issue! Have you tried claiming your UIF maternity benefit?
BabyGroup says…
To find more information visit: myclaimmate.co.zaufiling.co.zaccma.org.za

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