Maternity UIF: Months of Queuing and Paperwork

Once you’ve recovered from the news that you have fallen pregnant, thoughts quickly go to how will you afford to have this child and eventually take care of it. The financial implications of having a child are huge, even if the pregnancy was planned, a whole new set of expenses are added to the already long list of existing ones.  Since most working women have a portion of their salary deducted every month to contribute to their maternity UIF, and many take comfort in the knowledge that together with their employer, they have taken the necessary steps to ensure that at least there will be a portion of the new mum’s salary coming in during her 4 month maternity leave. Or at least that’s the way it is supposed to go…

maternity

Granted, the Department of Labour pays out almost all maternity UIF claims received, but the issue that mothers have is that the process is cumbersome, many of the staff are not helpful and the payouts are often delayed by months, and in some extreme cases, years. The entire point of the payout is that it assists the new mother to cover expenses DURING her maternity leave. Mothers should be recovering and taking care of their babies because that in itself is a challenge and a learnt skill. Unfortunately, many find themselves in the overcrowded and understaffed offices of the department of labour during this crucial time.

After listening to the experiences of those who went through the maternity UIF process, it became clear to me that no mother could have been involved in formulating the system to get that much-needed payout. Being sent from one government department to another, with your newborn in tow, is something a mother would not wish on another. Simple suggestions like an efficient online system that was mobile friendly came from one frustrated mother, and a system that logged the date that you started the process, came from another despondent mom. Because if you weren’t aware, there is a cut off time for all applications for UIF – if you’ve gone past 6 months since the birth of your baby, then sorry for you, you won’t get back you own money! Bear in mind that many are turned away for not having the correct documents, or not having the correct information filled out on the right template, or that you may have to go back to four different past employers to request various documentation. It’s a bureaucratic rigmarole that can take up precious time away from work, and most importantly, your child. For some who were sent back and forth and often given incorrect instructions from the department of labour staff, that six months flew by, and they now find themselves under pressure financially, and in debt.

I give a tiny bit of credit to the department for acknowledging their shortcomings and their internal issues around the entire UIF system, and they have invited us back to check up on their progress processing payouts for UIF, and the ease with which new moms can navigate the system. I believe it can be done, and I am looking forward to reporting back to you.