The 17-step process to save an Excel file – Why companies are battling to submit UIF claims

South African businesses which apply for financial assistance from the UIF’s Temporary Employer-Employee Scheme (TERS) are required to complete a 17-step process to ensure their Excel files are saved in the “correct format”.

MyBroadband received feedback from local businesses which said the application process to the UIF was not a simple one, and many were told their applications could not be processed as the documents they submitted were incorrect.

The TERS allows businesses who have been forced to partially or completely close due to the COVID-19 lockdown to apply for relief on behalf of their employees.

The UIF will then assess the applications, and pay affected employees a percentage of their salaries.

Slow processing

The successful processing of these applications has been very slow, however, according to a report by Moneyweb.

On 16 April, the report stated the UIF had received 39,000 applications from businesses – and only processed 136.

The UIF said this was due to a number of factors, including:

  • 15,755 duplicate applications were removed.
  • Of the remaining 23,245 applications, only 16,534 applications were in the correct CSV file format.
  • Only 136 files contained the correct information.

The Pipe Delimited CSV

The “correct CSV file format” has been a problem for businesses, though, based on feedback received by MyBroadband.

To apply for assistance, companies are required to send a blank email to [email protected] They then receive a response containing application instructions.

An Excel file with columns for the company’s name, employee names and ID numbers, and other information is required to be completed and sent back to the UIF.

This Excel file, said the UIF, must be saved as a CSV file that is pipe delimited. The process to achieve this format is not straightforward.

In fact, the UIF provides companies with a 17-step process – downloadable as a PDF – on its website on how to achieve this.

Saving a CSV file in a pipe delimited format requires more than selecting the right option in Microsoft Excel, and Windows users are required to change settings through their operating system’s Control Panel.

The UIF’s supplied process on how to save the CSV is summarised below.

  1. Access the Windows Control Panel.
  2. Select Region and Language.
  3. Click Additional settings.
  4. Change the comma to pipe in Line separator field. Once comma is changed to pipe, click Apply button and then OK button.
  5. Open the Excel file which has all employee information. Check * for all mandatory fields. Complete all mandatory fields for successful loading. Failure will result in no payment.
  6. Go to File (Top left in the File) and click Save As.
  7. Select the Save as type option dropdown and select CSV (Comma delimited). Also change the file name in the suggested format UIFreferenceNumber_DDMMMYYYY_uniqueno. Eg: if the uifreference number is 0000003/4 and date of sending file is 06 APR 2020 and this is the first file you are sending then use 1 as unique file number.
  8. On click of Save, you will be prompted with warning message – the selected file does not support workbooks that contain multiple sheets. Click OK button.
  9. You will again be prompted with another warning message that the file may contain features that are not compatible with CSV. Click Yes button.
  10. Close the file.
  11. Save the file.
  12. The file will be saved in CSV format at the location where the Excel file is located.
  13. Right click on the file and select Open with option to select Notepad.
  14. The file will look like the one below with Pipe (|) delimiters. Remove the header that represents column name. Here the first line that starts with uifreferencenumber must be removed.
  15. Add a header on the first line as indicated below. H|Date 06Apr2020 and add a footer at the end of the file F|Number of records in the file.
  16. Save the file using the Save option. The CSV file is ready for submission to the UIF.

Step 17

The guide then goes on to list more instructions for users to follow as part of step 17, which is: “Verify the file by opening in Notepad and verify the following.”

  • Filename should be in the following format: UIFREFERENCENUMBER_DDMMMYYYY_uniquesequence.csv.
  • Example – 00000021_25MAR2020_01.csv.
  • Unique sequence number can be a number which is not used to send file with same name – so when you send file first time unique sequence can be 1, when sent second time it can be 2.
  • File should start with a header – H|DATE DDMMMYYYY Column headers as under are not required in the file. It’s just to indicate sequencing. Remove the header once file is generated. Only H|DDMMMYYYY is required on the top.
  • The values of remuneration should not be comma separated. Example – 26000.90 and not 26,000.92
  • All the dates in CSV file should follow the date format DD-MMM-YYYY – Example – 23-APR-2020
  • Sector Minimum wage per month value is mandatory. A blank value will result in error.
  • Account Type value should reflect as below. Please use the Account Type ID instead of Account Type description.
  • The Preferred Payment Medium column is mandatory to fill as that information is used to pay to the beneficiaries. Use PaymentmediumId value and not the description when you prepare the file.
  • Each file should have footer record as under. F|2050 , Here 2050 is the number of employee records in the file.

Slow process

One business owner which spoke to MyBroadband said submitting a claim to the TERS was not smooth sailing.

Firstly, the business owner worked on a MacBook, and there was no guide on how to save the CSV as pipe delimited in MacOS.

After trying a method she found online via Google search, she mailed the requested files to the UIF.

Several days went by with no response, after which she received a mail stating her application was not successful.

She then mailed her company’s accountant for assistance, as they worked on a Windows PC.

Following her accountant saving the document in the correct format, she submitted the new application to the UIF on 14 April.

As of today, 19 April, she had not received any feedback.

UIF comment

The UIF was asked for comment, but it did not respond to questions.

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The 17-step process to save an Excel file – Why companies are battling to submit UIF claims