There are various state aid funding measures that are available to businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and the National lockdown. This will require fast work, so anyone seeking to access these funds must act immediately. Understand also that there will be an avalanche of requests for funding, so the sooner you act, the better for your business and workforce.
Listed below are the financial support measures that you maybe able to access if you meet their respective qualifying criteria.
1. Funding through the Department of Small Business Development which can be accessed at http://smmesa.gov.za/.
To qualify, businesses must meet the SMME criteria as shown below. SMMEs are able to apply for financial or non-financial assistance in order to meet employee, supplier and overhead obligations.
The qualifying criteria:
• Turnover below R50 million for the previous financial year.
• Business 100% South African owned.
• 70% of employees employed by the business must be South African citizens.
• Business must be tax compliant. Information supplied by the government indicates that funding of up to R500,000 is available and applications are likely to take up to 14 days. Successful applications will be audited in the future and will have to have supporting documentation and invoices to show how the money was expended. Anyone failing the audit will have to repay the money at prime plus 10%.
2. Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) Funding
The requirements to access SEFA funding are the same as for SMME SA Funding, but is restricted to the following sectors:
• Retail, wholesale and tourism industry
• Production industry
• Agriculture industry
• Construction industry
• Mining industry
The Industrial Development Corporation will disburse and manage this fund. Please note that as with SMME funding, an audit will be carried out in future and those failing the audit will be required to repay the money at penalty interest rates. More information can be accessed at: http://www.sefa.org.za/
3. Accessing UIF benefits for employees
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is to be utilised to make funds available to:
Companies that close their businesses during the lockdown, providing a flat amount equal to R3,500 per employee for the duration of the lockdown or a maximum of three months; Reduced work time (in which case the UIF benefit is equivalent to the different between what the employer normally pays and the normal UIF benefits applicable)
Illness benefits (in which case affected employees are entitled to claim 1 credit day for every four days of work, up to a maximum of 365 days for every four years of completed work)Death benefits payable to the beneficiaries of the decease (payable on the same basis as illness benefits mentioned above). Application forms can be downloaded from the Department of Employment and Labour website: https://www.labour.gov.za.
4. The TERS programme
Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme) will be expanded and expedited – funded by the UIF to assist distressed companies in the form of subsidies to fund directly workers’ wages. One of the conditions is that the company embarks upon a turnaround or sustainability programme. TERS will be overseen by the CCMA (Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration). To obtain application forms and all relevant details, please send an email to: infoTERS@labour.gov.za. If the CCMA finds that you do not fully follow the sustainability programme, penalties and repayment will be levied at punitive interest rates.
5. Solidarity Fund
This is a special fund created by the government and funded by both the private and public sectors (the Rupert and Oppenheimer families have agreed to contribute R1 billion each). Details of the fund are available at https://www.solidarityfund.co.za/. It is not yet known how to apply for funding from this source. It is advised that you check daily at the above web address for more details.
6. Compensation commissioner
Any employee contracting the Covid-19 virus while employed by you (and not while at home) can apply for compensation under the Compensation Act. Please note that these applications must be made in person by the employee to the Compensation Commissioner’s offices. More information can be accessed here: https://www.gov.za/services/compensation-fund/register-compensation-fund . Access to SMME SA Funding, Solidarity Fund or the SEFA Fund will require up-to-date:
• financial statements
• management statements and
• financial forecasts for the next 12 months.
7. Register as a company that provides essential services.
The regulations issued by the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs provide for a form or certificate to be issued by companies who provide essential services to their workers, to be carried when travelling to and from work.