Individual U-Filing doesn't do the job
The Department of Labour's Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has moved to reassure claimants of unemployment insurance benefits that its online U-Filing system is up and running. It says most of the problems stem from incorrect information being submitted by users.
Perseverance Mathebula, UIF principal communication officer, notes the fund has been receiving a large number of complaints every month about the system not working and UIF claims not being paid out, since its online system was opened to registration by individuals earlier this year. He says the lack of payments, however, is because users are battling to register.
Mathebula admits the added functionality has not been widely advertised and uptake has been slow among private citizens. Previously, employees had to be registered with the UIF by their employers, before the system was enhanced in December.
"Even though the system isn't new, many people are still not aware of it. We find that many individuals are struggling to register on the system and we get a lot of complaints. But in most cases the problem lies with incorrect information entered by the user," he says, adding the UIF has only now embarked on an aggressive awareness campaign.
As a result, Mathebula says the individual registration option has not had a significant impact on the number of people who physical visit the Department of Labour to collect their monthly claims. Another hindrance to individual uptake is that an Internet connection is required for claimants to use the system, as it cannot be accessed via a mobile device.
"We are planning to add that capability, but we don't have it as yet. At this stage, we are still stabilising the system and it would create total havoc if we went mobile at this stage." He notes the UIF also needs to establish its own Web site, as it currently only has an online presence on the Department of Labour's site.
Between January and July, just over 400 000 people claimed unemployment, down from 450 000 the year before. The UIF says the total number of claimants is estimated to be between 50 000 and 60 000 a month.
Meanwhile, Mathebula says the U-Filing system, which was designed by Interfile - the same company behind the South African Revenue Service's e-Filing system - went live in 2012, and has seen significant uptake among businesses.
"However, we are now targeting individual claimants via an aggressive TV and radio campaign, as well as posters at labour department offices."
He explains the system is specifically aimed at simplifying the process for disabled and impaired people, who struggle to physically collect UIF claims.