Parliament considering Bill to increase UIF

The Unemployment Insurance Fund is currently sitting on a R120 billion surplus.

Picture: Aletta Harrison.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament's considering a new Bill that will increase Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) pay-outs to those who lose their jobs or stop work to have a child.

The Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill has the support of all parties and Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) has called for it to be passed as quickly as possible.

The UIF is currently sitting on a R120 billion surplus.

Cosatu briefed Parliament's Labour Committee on the Bill today.

Cosatu's Matthew Parks says increasing UIF pay-outs from eight months to a year could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of workers losing their jobs in a depressed economy.

"Why this Bill is so critical and why it's needed so badly and so quickly is of course, [that] we're facing a bleeding economy… The mining sector is literally losing thousands of jobs on a weekly basis."

The Bill sets maternity benefits at a fixed rate of 66 percent of income and includes women who miscarry or whose baby is still born.

Cosatu wants a clause depriving women who have abortions of benefits removed, saying it wasn't agreed to and that this would disempower women.

PROPOSED CHANGES TO UIF

The Bill also allows for the minister of labour to issue regulations to ensure that domestic workers and employees of small businesses are also covered.

Parks referred to the mining sector bleeding jobs when he told MPs the trade union federation wants it passed into law urgently.

"The provisions in this Bill will literally make the difference between life and death for thousands of mineworkers."

The Bill extends maternity benefits to women who miscarry in the third quarter or whose baby is stillborn, but excludes women who choose to terminate their pregnancy.