Foreign Nationals are entitled to the financial protections offered by the UIF (including TERS)

The Regulations to the Unemployment Insurance Act were recently amended to make provision for Foreign Nationals to register with the UIF and make claims in terms of the Act. 

This amendment gave effect to a High Court judgment which found that the requirement that an employee was to submit a valid SA ID number to register with the UIF was unfairly discriminatory against foreign nationals. The citation of the judgment is: Musanga and Others v Minister of Labour and Others (unreported judgment of the North Gauteng High Court (Pretoria), Case No: 29994/18.

It’s clear from this judgment that the source of the problem was quite literally that the UIF system would only accept a 13 digit SA ID number to register. As a result, the legislature gave effect to the judgment by amending the definition of “identity document” contained in the UI regulations to include “valid foreign identity documents and passports, as well as permits and other identifying documents contemplated in or issued in terms of the Refugees Act, 1998 (Act No.130 of 1998).” 

As such, both foreign nationals (with valid IDs and Passports) and Asylum Seekers and Refugees (with valid permits) may now claim from the UIF. 

Please follow the link hereunder to the Government Gazette which amends Regulation 1 of the Regulations to the Unemployment Insurance Act published on 14 February 2020:

https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/202002/43023rg11040gon173.pdf

While there is no formal guidance with regard to claims from TERS by foreign nationals, we are of the view that that this amendment would also be applicable to the TERS arrangement as the definition of “identity document” used anywhere in the regulations was amended and not just the provisions relating to ordinary UIF pay outs. As such, foreign nationals should be entitled to claim from the scheme during the COVID-19 Pandemic.