VAAL TRIANGLE - The Department of Labour has to date paid out more than R 1 billion in COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Fund benefits to workers as part of the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme. The UIF has processed over 37 000 employer applications which means that 606 462 employees will receive benefits. Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi says the scheme will provide much-needed relief to employees who have been laid off work or unable to earn an income due to the pandemic. The Unemployment Insurance Fund further said nearly half the applications it received for coronavirus-related claims by last week were duplicates, amid concerns from organised labour that the cover was not reaching enough vulnerable workers during the national lockdown. A spokesperson for the UIF, Lungelo Mkamba, said the lockdown was an extraordinary situation, and while the Fund is operating with skeleton staff, it is doing its best under the circumstances, through electronic platforms, to process all claims at speed.