News Articles

Court victory enables asylum seekers in SA to claim unemployment benefits

Source: Biznews, 02/03/2019

However, following a ruling of the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division (Pretoria) on 27 February 2019, this will no longer be the case as a result of litigation initiated by Werksmans Attorneys’ pro bono department. During the course of their employment, employees (including asylum seekers) have a duty to make contributions to the UIF. The employer makes the contributions on the employee’s behalf by deducting the relevant portion of their salary. Upon termination of the employment relationship, the contributing employee becomes entitled to benefits from the Fund. To claim these benefits, the employee is required to submit, amongst other things, an identity document, in terms of the Unemployment Insurance Act Regulations. However, asylum seekers (defined as people who have arrived in South Africa and applied for refugee status as a result of being forced to flee their countries of origin) do not have identity documents. For an asylum seeker to obtain an identity document, their application for asylum must be successful, at which stage they are formally declared to be a “refugee”, and become entitled to a wider body of rights, including an entitlement to an identity document. The regulations to the Refugees Act specify that the asylum application should take no longer than 180 days. In reality, however, many of these applications take longer than 10 years. Because asylum seekers do not have identity documents they are excluded from claiming benefits from the Fund, despite many having made contributions to the Fund for years. Such was the case for 5 asylum seekers represented by Werksmans in an application against the Minister of Labour, the Director- General of the Department of Labour and the Unemployment Insurance Commissioner (the Respondents) to declare certain regulations of the Unemployment Insurance Act unconstitutional to the extent that they exclude asylum seekers from claiming benefits; and to direct that the Department of Labour affect the necessary systemic changes to allow asylum seekers to claim benefits. The application was opposed by the Respondents and subsequently set down to be heard on 27 February 2019. Upon arriving at court on the day of the hearing, the Respondents conceded on all material aspects of the application, as a result of which the impugned regulations were declared unconstitutional and an order was granted in favour of the asylum seekers, with costs. This judgment is an important endorsement of the principles of social justice in that asylum seekers who have made contributions to the Fund will now be able to claim their benefits if they are in possession of a valid asylum seeker permit.


Search

  •    Statistics SA`s analysis of tourist arrivals between 2013 and 2014 fails to take into account that 2013 tourist arrival figures included transit passengers, while for 2014 these were excluded.... Read more...
  •    A retirement visa can be granted for 4 years to someone with a monthly pension, irrevocable annuity or retirement account of R37 000 from a net worth/combination of assets realizing R37 000 per month and wishes to retire temporarily or permanently in South Africa.... Read more...
  •    A retirement visa can be granted for 4 years to someone with a monthly pension, irrevocable annuity or retirement account of R37 000 from a net worth/combination of assets realizing R37 000 per month and wishes to retire temporarily or permanently in South Africa.... Read more...
  •    There has been much confusion surrounding the amendments to the unbridged birth certificate (UBC) requirements for visitors coming to South Africa from abroad, as gazetted on November 30, and coming into effect on December 1.... Read more...
  •    We have written in our newsletter on previous occasions about the unnecessary delays in processing not only Temporary Residence Visas but also Permanent Residence Visas.... Read more...
  •    IN a surprise turn of events, the Eastern Cape Department of Education has agreed to allow 37 children to attend schools despite them not having birth certificates. This change of heart comes as the department is due to face judges of the Constitutional Court to answer to the fact that the children have not attended school this year.... Read more...
  •    For many years, asylum seekers attempting to claim benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) have routinely been turned away by the Department of Labour, despite having made contributions to the Fund during their employment.... Read more...
  •    The Department of Home Affairs says it will pilot new e-gates at a number of South African airports in 2019. A spokesperson told BusinessTech that the gates will first be piloted at Cape Town International Airport and will form part of the implementation of the Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS). He added that a further rollout will be done in a phased approach, with Oliver Tambo and King Shaka International airports to follow. “The broad objective of the project is the facilitation of movement of low-risk travellers through a self-service solution, hence freeing capacity for the assessment of high-risk categories by an immigration officer,” the spokesperson said.... Read more...
  •    The home affairs committee criticised the department for its decision to grant VFS a two-year extension, saying it violates regulations Parliament`s home affairs portfolio committee has called on home affairs minister Siyabonga Cwele to review the department’s contract with VFS global.... Read more...
  •    For every skilled professional coming to South Africa, eight are leaving. This was the major finding of an Enterprise Observatory of South Africa (EOSA) report released in January. The researchers found that while a large number of white professionals were making the jump, in recent years, the annual number of black professionals leaving South Africa exceeds the tally of professional white emigrants.... Read more...

Get the latest Immigration News