Legislative Update

By Jacques Van Wyk, Director, Andre van Heerden, Senior Associate, Werksmans Attorneys


On 18 January 2017,  the President of the Republic of South Africa assented to the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Act 10 of 2016 (“Amendment Act”). The Amendment became effective on 19 January 2017.


The Amendment Act seeks to amend the Unemployment Insurance Act 63 of 2001 (“Act”) so as to, among others:


  • provide for the extension of unemployment insurance benefits to learners who are undergoing learnership training and civil servants;

  • adjust the accrual rate of a contributor’s entitlement to insurance benefits;

  • finance employment services;

  • provide for the process of application of maternity benefits;

  • repeal some enforcement provisions; and

  • empower the Unemployment Insurance Board to provide in its constitution for the functions of regional appeals committee to amend Schedule 2 of the Act so as to provide for the adjustment of the Income Replacement Rate.


The following amendments are noteworthy:


  • the amended section 12 of the Act provides for the payment, in specified circumstances, of benefits to contributors who lose part of their income due to reduced working hours and to provide for a fixed rate of payment of maternity leave;

  • the amended section 17 of the Act increases the period for submitting applications for unemployment benefits from six to twelve months;

  • the amended section 20 of the Act provides that employees will be excluded from claiming unemployment benefits if their sickness is for a period less than seven days. Previously the cut off was a period less than fourteen days;

  • the amended section 24 of the Act, which regulates maternity benefits in the case of a miscarriage, now provides that a contributor who has had a miscarriage during the third trimester or bears a still-born child is entitled to maternity leave of 17 to 32 weeks. A contributor is not entitled to benefits unless she was employed, whether as a contributor or not, for at least 13 weeks before the date of application for maternity benefits;

  • the amended section 25 of the Act, which regulates the time periods within which an application for maternity benefits must be made, now provides that an application can be made anytime before or after childbirth provided the application shall be made within a period of 12 months from the date of childbirth;

  • the amended section 30 of the Act, now provides that a surviving spouse, life partner, dependent child or nominated beneficiary may apply for a benefit on behalf of a deceased contributor in the instance of:

    • a life partner or surviving spouse of the deceased contributor, within 18 months of the death of the contributor, except where just cause is shown;

    • a defendant child if there is no surviving spouse or life partner or the surviving spouse or life partner has not made an application for the benefits within the 18 month period;

    • a nominated beneficiary if there is no surviving spouse, life partner or dependent children of the deceased contributor.

  • the amended section 31 of the Act now provides that when processing an application for benefits neither the Unemployment Insurance Fund nor any agency or person purporting to act on behalf of the applicant may charge a fee for doing so.


For more information, please contact Jacques Van Wyk at , or  Andre van Heerden at  

Article published with the kind courtesy of Werksmans Attorneys www.werksmans.com







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