An increasing number of South Africans nowadays employ caregivers to take care of aging family members, either via a live-in or full-time arrangement or part-time. Many are unaware, however, that if the employer dies and such staff members aren’t registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), it will be up to the executor of the deceased estate to ensure registration takes place – often resulting in potentially costly delays in winding up the estate.
The obligations of employers towards caregivers extend beyond only paying these employees a salary. Unless a caregiver is an ‘independent contractor’, in other words, he or she works for an agency or organisation contracted to provide care, it is a legal requirement that as an employee, a caregiver needs to be registered with the UIF. Not fulfilling this obligation may lead to the caregiver having a claim against the estate if the employer dies, which could delay its finalisation and incur additional costs to correct the position of the employee.
Caregivers must be registered with the UIF:
As soon as they take up the employment
If they are employed for more than 24 hours per month.
The consequences of not registering caregivers can be illustrated by the following example:
Ann employed Vanessa as a caregiver, as she needed assistance during the week. Her daughter and son-in-law, who were living with her, took care of her when they returned from work and over weekends. Vanessa worked five days a week, for eight hours a day, for eight years before Ann passed away. Ann had not registered Vanessa for UIF, and when she died, Vanessa’s employment was in effect terminated and she became unemployed.
Ann was under the impression that because she had made provision in the form of a specific legacy for Vanessa in her will, she had fulfilled her obligation to provide for Vanessa in the event of her death. However, this bequest was not a substitute for Vanessa’s right to claim against her estate for UIF purposes.
If Ann had registered Vanessa for the UIF before she died, she would have been able to claim benefits soon after her death. It was now up to the executor of Ann’s estate to register her and get all the paperwork done – a costly and time-consuming exercise, which not only led to delays in winding up the estate, but also resulted in Vanessa having little to no income for a considerable length of time.
When an executor has to register a caregiver for UIF purposes after the death of the employer, all arrear contributions will first need to be paid from the deceased estate before it can be finalised. To prevent unnecessary delays at this stage, it’s crucial that registration takes place as soon as the worker is employed and before the death of the employer.
With regard to retirement benefits, in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, an employer is not obliged to provide a caregiver with a pension or provident fund – this remains at the discretion of the employer.
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