As defined in the Act, an employee means "any natural person who receives remuneration or to whom remuneration accrues in respect of services rendered … but excludes independent contractors".
An employee must be a contributor, able to prove to the Unemployment Insurance Commissioner that he and his employer have contributed to the Unemployment Insurance Fund on a monthly basis. Such contributions amount to 1% of the employee's monthly remuneration. Proof of contributions will be reflected on an employee's payslip.
The Act does not apply to the following employees:
• Those working less than 24 hours in a month.
• Those employed in terms of section 18(2) of the Skills Development Act, 97 of 1998.
• Those in national and provincial spheres of government.
• Persons who enter the Republic for the purpose of carrying out a contract service apprenticeship or learnership.
• Persons who receive a monthly state pension.
An employee, who falls within the ambit of the Act, will qualify for unemployment insurance: should he be employed on a fixed term contract; or should his employer go bankrupt; or should he be fired; or in the case of a domestic worker, the termination of the contract of employment is due to the death of the employer.
However, where an employee already receives a benefit from the Compensation Commission or resigns, he will not be entitled to unemployment insurance. In a recent CCMA decision, it was decided that where an employee absconds and a disciplinary enquiry is held in his absence, he is not entitled to any unemployment benefits, as he ended the employment relationship.
An employee must apply for unemployment insurance within six months of the termination of his contract of employment. An employee is entitled to one day's benefit/pay for every completed six days of employment as a contributor, with a maximum accrual of 238 days. In simple terms, if an employee was paid monthly, his daily pay would be his monthly rate of pay multiplied by 12 and divided by 365. The current monthly income ceiling is R12 478. Any benefit paid out in terms of the Act is not subject to taxation.
In terms of section 16(1) of the Act, in order to successfully claim unemployment insurance the employee must be registered as a work seeker with a labour centre established under the Skills Development Act. This is necessary, as it shows that the employee is capable and able to work.
In the event that an employee is unsuccessful, he would be entitled to be furnished with written reasons explaining exactly why his application for unemployment insurance had been refused. Thereafter, he would be entitled to appeal against a decision to deny him