South Africa

UIF COMPUTER SAYS NO

uFiling system down — the unemployed struggle to lodge claims for funds

The UIF online application process is ‘plagued with gremlins and obstacles’ making it almost impossible for a large number of employers to submit their applications on time.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund’s uFiling system has been offline since 22 February 2019. Unemployed citizens have been unable to register for or claim financial benefits and have been struggling to find help from the Department of Labour’s call centre. The department seems to be only vaguely aware of the issue, despite the negative impact the downtime has had on its beneficiaries.

The Department of Labour’s uFiling system has been offline since 22 February, leaving jobless citizens unable to apply for compensation from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

According to the error message on the home page, the website has been down due to “required maintenance and upgrade of the uFiling System”. UIF director for communication and marketing Makhosonke Buthelezi says the maintenance process will modernise the uFiling system and enhance some functions.

(It will have) a brand new HTML5 interface scalable for any screen, straight-through registration where you can get your UIF number online and automated password resets,” said Buthelezi.

However, according to a press statement released by the Department of Labour on 19 February, the plan was to have the system up and running by 25 February.

In the statement, Department of Labour spokesperson Teboho Thejane said the department would be relocating its data centre to another building. This process also affected the uFiling system.

The Department has signed a contract with the State Information Technology Agency to house the new data centre in a state-of-the-art facility in Midrand,” Thejane said.

A data centre is the central hub of an organisation’s ICT operations and equipment. This is where business-critical infrastructure is housed which provides access to systems, servers, databases and business applications.”

The uFiling system’s downtime has naturally caused frustration among individuals trying to submit online claims with the UIF.

Many have taken to the Department’s Facebook page to voice their concerns. One user complained:

Your systems are forever down! What is happening!!!??? Why are you doing this to us?????”

Another said:

I have been trying from February to put a claim threw (sic) and they keep saying systems are offline.”

There has been no visible response to the queries.

The call centre has also provided minimal assistance to disgruntled citizens. As a test, Daily Maverick attempted to contact the call centre. There was no response after 10 minutes of waiting.

Buthelezi claims that the department was not aware of difficulties in reaching the call centre.

We shall check promptly. Citizens can send queries to [email protected] or [email protected],” he said.

The automated response on the UIF call instructs those wishing to file claims to do so at their nearest labour centre.

However, according to Thokozane Sibeko from Mpumalanga, this can also be a challenge.

On 22 February I was supposed to file a claim (at the labour centre), but they said the system is offline for the whole week. And that is my frustration.”

He was instructed to return to the Labour Centre on 25 March, but the system was offline again.

I saw the note on the door, saying the system will be offline from today till the first of April,” he said.

For Sibeko, not being able to claim his UIF benefits means he cannot provide for his family.

We claim this money when we’re not working, you understand, so our families and everybody depends on this money, so if this is happening, it’s really frustrating. It’s really bad,” he said.

The UIF says it plans to have the system up and running by the end of the week.

UIF regrets the impact this has had on our clients, and our technicians are working hard to restore the system,” said Buthelezi.

The UIF provides short-term relief to workers when they become unemployed or are unable to work because of maternity issues, adoption leave, or illness. It also provides relief to the dependants of a deceased contributor. DM

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