Answer to a question from a reader

Can the child of a deceased domestic worker claim money from their parent's employer if no pension was paid out?

The short answer

There is no law compelling employers of domestic workers to provide a pension, but they do need to register the worker for UIF.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My late father worked as a gardener for almost 21 years but had to stop and come home when he fell ill. He didn't get any pension from his employer. Is there a way for me to claim money from the employer?

The long answer

If your father was retrenched, his employer should at least have provided severance pay, which is calculated as one week’s wages for every completed year of service. 

But there is no law compelling employers of gardeners (who are classed as domestic workers) to provide a pension. 

Did the employer register him for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) as he is required to do by law

If your father worked more than 24 hours a month, he would be considered a full-time employee, and his employer should have registered him for UIF. Domestic workers have been included in UIF since 2003. 

Workers can only be registered with UIF by their employer, who must fill out the UI-8 and UI-19 forms, and then submit them through the online uFiling system, fax, email, mail, or bring them to a Labour Centre. If the employer fails to register a worker for UIF, he can be fined. 

The UIF is under the Department of Labour and when an employer registers a worker with UIF, they also have to provide a lawful contract of employment and a monthly payslip. His employer should have made monthly payments (or yearly, by arrangement) to UIF. These payments are a 1% contribution from the employer plus a 1% deduction from the employee’s wages.

If your father was registered for UIF, he would have been able to claim illness benefits from the UIF. If he had been dismissed or retrenched, he would have been able to claim unemployment benefits. Only if he had resigned or had agreed to the termination of his job, he would not have qualified for UIF benefits. 

If he had been registered for UIF, his wife or surviving life partner or his dependants or a beneficiary that he nominated on the UI-53 Nomination Form would be able to claim death benefits from UIF. 

This is how it works:

  1. First a spouse or surviving life partner needs to claim death benefits within 18 months of the death of the UIF contributor.

  2. If there is no surviving spouse or life partner, or if no claim has been submitted by them within 18 months of the death of the contributor, children under 21 who were dependent can submit a claim.

  3. Children between 21 and 25 years old can also submit a claim if they were if they were studying and dependent on the contributor.

  4. A beneficiary who was nominated by the contributor on the UI-53 form.

These are the documents a spouse or partner would need to submit:

  • A certified copy of the death certificate of the contributor

  • A certified copy of a marriage certificate for a spouse

  • A lobola letter or an affidavit proving the relationship for a partner

  • UI-53 Nomination Form

  • Proof of banking details

  • A service certificate from the employer

These are the documents the child or children would need to submit:

  • A certified copy of the child / children’s identity document

  • Copies of the deceased contributor’s last six payslips

  • UI-19 form completed by the employer

  • A service certificate from the employer

  • A certified copy of the child’s birth certificate

  • Proof of banking details

  • A certified copy of the death certificate of the contributor

  • For dependents between 21 and 25 years of age, proof that the child or children is / are a learner who was dependent on the deceased

  • In the case of a guardian, proof of guardianship, a letter confirming that the minor is still in school, and a birth certificate

  • UI-53 Nomination Form

The financial service provider FHBC says that any and all UIF contributors must complete the UI-53 Nomination Form while they are still alive. The UI-53 Nomination Form must be submitted to the employer for submission to the Department of Employment & Labour.

It’s very important to know if he was registered for UIF or not. You could go to your nearest UIF / Labour Office or call UIF at their Call Centre on these numbers:

012 337 1680 / 080 084 3843 / 080 084 0800

It is very likely, sadly, that the employer did not register your father with the UIF: it was estimated in 2021 that only 20% of domestic workers were registered for UIF. 

If your father was still alive and had reported his employer’s failure to register him for UIF, it would have been possible for his employer to register him and pay arrears to the UIF for the years he had not paid over the UIF contributions and deductions. Non-payment is an offence, so the UIF would have levied a 10% penalty on these back contributions and their finance department would also have calculated a daily amount of interest owing.

So, if he was not registered for UIF, what can you do now? 

Perhaps you should start by contacting the UIF and see if they could help you make a complaint against the employer to the Labour Department to try to get compensation for the financial loss of the death benefits from the employer, as he failed to register your father for UIF, which he was legally obliged to do.   

UIF Call Centre numbers: 012 337 1680 / 080 084 3843 / 080 084 0800

But I think you may also need legal help with that. Legal Aid is a means-tested organisation that must assist people who can’t afford a lawyer. These are their contact details:

Tel: 0800 110 110 (Monday to Friday 7AM - 7PM) 
Please Call Me: 079 835 7179

Wishing you the best,

Answered on June 21, 2024, 4:06 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.