Having a baby will have a huge impact on your budget, beginning with your income during maternity leave. Here we offer advice for managing the UIF preparation, application and collection during the time that all you really want to do is care for your precious new arrival. Lucia Walker gives us some advice.
You can never be too prepared when expecting a baby – you can never have enough nappies, toiletries, clothing… or money. If you are in the habit of saving, then as soon as you discover there is a little one on the way, start increasing your monthly savings. If you’re not in the habit of saving, then start that habit now! One of the biggest concerns for expecting parents is the financial impact that a new person will bring to the budget. Although the Department of Labour provides an Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), it should not be the only form of income during maternity leave.
What is the Unemployment Insurance Fund?
For a large percentage of the South African population the UIF is a source of income when you become unemployed or unable to work because of maternity, adoption leave, or illness. It also provides relief to the dependants of a deceased contributor.
Each month, employees pay a certain percentage of their salary towards their UIF to be able to draw from the fund if the need arises. It is quite common for pregnant women to start the paperwork to claim from the UIF when they are close to their due date. You often find them in the long queues at the Department of Labour in an effort to make their months away from work and with baby less financially stressful.
To avoid the queues, expectant mothers can register for uFiling, which is a free online service offered by the UIF. The benefits include the ease of secure and faster payments. According to the department, uFiling allows for instant and reliable declaration submissions.
A lucky few will reap the benefit of receiving the monthly payout from the first month of maternity leave, while some will have to wait quite a bit longer.
How to best prepare for maternity leave
Equip yourself with the best possible knowledge of how your employers can assist during your maternity leave. Some companies offer a full salary during maternity leave, with the employee being contractually obligated to stay with the company for a certain period after the leave. Other companies offer a negotiated amount of your monthly salary over the maternity leave period, with the balance of your salary possibly being paid from your UIF.
Research the different options available to you and take into account your monthly budget and how much your new baby will affect your spending. Furthermore, work according to a timeline as to how long you have to collect, complete and submit all the paperwork to claim from the UIF during your maternity leave. It is best to prepare these documents during your second trimester rather than try to get all the paperwork when you are in your third trimester.
Where can I find help?
There are agencies across the country that offer to do the UIF admission process on your behalf at a fee. If you find claiming from the UIF is distracting you from what you should be focussing on during your pregnancy (like your baby’s health), then these agencies can come in handy.
Although they offer tremendous stress relief, expectant mothers are advised to familiarise themselves with the process and to ask as many questions as possible. Furthermore, it is in your best interest to know your uFiling details and to do checks with the Department of Labour directly instead of depending on the agency to do it for you. This eliminates a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety.
How to make this work
In addition to researching different maternity benefit options available to you and familiarising yourself with the UIF process on the Department of Labour’s website (https://www.ufiling.co.za/), strive to work according to a realistic budget by finding out how much you are legible to receive in monthly payouts.
Collect all the UIF forms from their website and get all the respective people – often current and past employers as well as your doctor – to complete their necessary sections. Although you can never be too prepared, you can start early to financially prepare for the time you’ll spend at home. Be confident in your plan and how the next few months on maternity leave will pan out.