On 10 March 2021, the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner published regulations with regard to Domestic Workers being covered by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA).

This was in response to a Constitutional Court Order made on 19 November 2020 which declared that this means that Domestic employees will now be entitled for compensation in the event they are injured or contract diseases while on duty. In addition, the order has been made retrospective to 27 April 1994.

As per the COIDA Act:

the employee is a person who has entered into or works under a contract of service or of apprenticeship or learnership, with an employer, whether the contract is express or implied, oral or in writing, and whether the remuneration is calculated by time or by work done, or is in cash or in kind. Types of benefits paid in terms of the Act Compensation payable to domestic workers for occupational injuries and diseases.

Specifically covered by the act, other than permanent employees are:

  • Casuals
  • Directors
  • Members of Body Corporates
  • Employees provided by a Labour Broker

Domestic workers together with Members of the Armed Forces, Police Force and Independent Contractors were excluded until the new ruling.

The cover now provided to Domestic Workers who have been injured on duty or who have contracted a disease during the course of their duty, is the same as the benefit available to all employees and has been well described in the document published by the DOL as follows:

  1. Temporary total disablement (TTD)
    • The TTD is payable to an injured employee who is booked off for a period of 4 days and more by the treating doctor to recuperate from the injuries/condition in respect of the occupational diseases suffered at the time of the accident/diagnosis. The maximum period payable is 24 months.
  2. Permanent disablement lump sum
    • The permanent disablement lump sum is paid to an employee who has received a final medical report from the treating doctor indicating that the employee has reached maximum medical improvement. The permanent disablement should be 1-30% for the Compensation Fund to pay this benefit.
  3. Permanent disablement pension
    • The permanent disablement pension is paid to an employee who has received a final medical report from the treating doctor indicating that the employee has reached maximum medical improvement. The permanent disablement should be 31 -100% for the Compensation Fund to pay this benefit. Compensation payable to the dependants of employees who died as a result of injury on duty or occupational disease.
  4. Funeral expenses payable to dependents of a deceased employee with a date of death before the 1st of April 2019
    • The actual expenses incurred for the burial of a deceased employee are refunded to the dependants up to a maximum amount that is detailed in schedule 4 annually.
  5. Funeral benefits payable to deceased employees with the date of death of 1st April 2019 and after
    • The amount of R18 251.00 is paid as a lump sum to the dependants of employees who died as a result of injury on duty or occupational disease on and after the 1st of April 2019.
  6. Widow’s lump sum award
    • The surviving spouse of the deceased employee is paid a widow’s lump sum. This amount is split evenly to the spouses of the deceased employee in case of multiple surviving spouses.
  7. Widow’s pension award
    • The widow also receives a pension from the Compensation Fund. This pension is only terminated on the death of the widow.
  8. Child pension award
    • The children of the deceased employee are also paid a pension up to the age of 18 years or when they get married or financially emancipated. This pension may be extended for children who are still going to school after turning 18 years.
  9. Partial dependency award
    • This award is paid to the parents or siblings of the deceased employee if there is no surviving spouse or child. This is a once off lump sum that is paid to one individual.
  10. Wholly dependency award
    • This is a pension award paid to the parents or siblings of the deceased employee who were dependant on the income of the deceased employee. The award is paid if there is no surviving spouse or child. The pension is terminated by the death of the recipient or the expiry of the lifespan of the deceased employee.
  11. Orthotics and Rehabilitation
    • The following benefits are also available through the Compensation Fund for qualifying applicants,
  12. Bursaries for youth
    • The Compensation Fund provides bursaries for tertiary studies to unemployed youth, dependents of Compensation Fund pensioners and dependents of those who suffered fatal occupational injuries between the ages of 17 to 25 years.
  13. Return to work Programme.
    • The return-to-work programme provides skills development and facilitation of return-to-work for injured/diseased workers who are mainly persons with disabilities. Injured workers who have disabilities may apply for funding towards skills development that will provide equal developmental opportunities to maximise performance, employability, and participation in the labour market.
  14. Assistive devices
    • The Compensation Fund provides assistive devices such as wheelchairs and prosthetics to injured workers who have sustained a disability. The process of obtaining an assistive device is derived from the medical reports and is preauthorised to ensure that the beneficiary receives a device according to their medical requirements.
  15. Rehabilitation and re-integration
    • The Compensation Fund provides rehabilitation and reintegration programmes whose objective is to ensure all the needs of injured workers with disabilities are addressed. Case management ensures follow ups with workers who have sustained a disability with regards to their medical and social rehabilitation needs
  16. Medical Benefits
    • The following medical benefits are available through the Compensation Fund to qualifying claimants.
  17. Medical claims
    • The Compensation Fund will process reasonable medical expenses to gazetted Medical Service Providers and institutions that treated the employee.
  18. Re-opening of the claim
    • The Compensation Fund will re-open a claim for further treatment once the claim has exceeded two years from the date of accident and the employee still needs further treatment.
  19. Chronic medication
    • Chronic medication will be considered where an employee has contracted an occupational disease or injury that requires chronic medication. The treating medical practitioner must confirm the need for chronic treatment.


A right to claim in terms of the Act shall lapse if the accident that happened or the disease that commenced on or after 27th April 1994 is not brought to the attention of the Commissioner or of the employer or mutual association concerned, as the case may be, within 12 months from 19th  November 2020.


This ruling means that all employers of domestic employees are obliged to register as employers with the Compensation Fund and submit the necessary returns as obliged.  All employers of domestic workers are therefore encouraged to register with the Compensation Fund without delay.

  1. Industry Classification In terms of the Compensation Fund’s Classification of Industries, domestic employers would be classified under Class XIX Personal Services, subclass 1910 at an assessment rate of 0.81.
  2. In terms of the new classification model to be introduced effective 1 March 2021, domestic employers will fall under its own class, Class M, subclass 2500 at an assessment rate of 1.04 for the 2021 year onwards.

Breaking News: EXTENSION OF TERS (2020/03/02)

New Directive extends TERS from 16 October 2020 to 15 March 2021

The Department of Employment and Labour published a new letter today explaining the process to be followed to claim TERS for the period 16 October 2020 to 15 March 2021.  The directives have not yet been published and the system is not yet open for applications.

The intention is that the TERS applications can be submitted in two applications, the first from 16 October 2020 to 31 December 2020 and the second tranche will be from 1 January 2021 to 15 March 2021.

However, only certain industries or categories of employees will qualify for the TERS offered:

  1. Employees who were required to self-isolate or quarantine.
  2. Employees who were required to self-isolate or quarantine.
  3. Employees who were required to self-isolate or quarantine.

Supporting documentation for these claims will be required.

In terms of qualifying Industries, two lists have been provided.

List 1:

  1. TRANSPORTATION & STORAGE (tourism and hospitality)
  2.  ACCOMMODATION (tourism and hospitality)
  3. FOOD AND BEVERAGE SERVICE ACTIVITIES (tourism and hospitality)
  4. RENTING & LEASING ACTIVITIES (tourism and hospitality)
  7. OTHER PERSONAL SERVICE ACTIVITIES (tourism and hospitality)
  9. CREATIVE, ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT ACTIVITIES (Arts, entertainment and recreation sector)
  10. LIBRARIES, ARCHIVES, MUSEUMS AND OTHER CULTURAL ACTIVITIES (Arts, entertainment and recreation sector)
  11. GAMBLING AND BETTING ACTIVITIES (Arts, entertainment and recreation sector)
  12. SPORTS ACTIVITIES AND AMUSEMENT AND RECREATION ACTIVITIES (Arts, entertainment and recreation sector)
  13. RETAIL SALE OF CULTURAL AND RECREATION GOODS IN SPECIALIZED STORES (Arts, entertainment and recreation sector)
  15.  MANUFACTURE OF BEVERAGES (liquor sector)
  16.  WHOLESALE AND RETAIL TRADE (liquor sector)
  17.  TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE (liquor sector)
  18.  SECURITY & INVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES (Service providers who place employees into the above affected sectors: security services)
  19. EMPLOYMENT ACTIVITIES (Service providers who place employees into the above affected sectors)
  20.  SERVICES TO BUILDINGS AND LANDSCAPE ACTIVITIES (Service providers who place employees into the above affected sectors: cleaning services / maintenance)

List 2

  1. Cinemas
  2. Theatres
  3. Casinos
  4. Museums, galleries, libraries and archives
  5. Gyms and fitness centres
  6. Restaurants
  7. Venues hosting auctions
  8. Venues hosting professional sports
  9. Night clubs
  10. Swimming pools
  11. Bars, taverns and shebeens
  12. Public parks
  13. Domestic and international air travel
  14. Rail, bus services and taxi services
  15. E- hailing services
  16. Sale, dispensing and distributions and transportation of liquor
  17. Beaches, dams, rivers and lake
  18. Passenger ships
  19. Venues where social events are held
  20. Venues hosting concerts and live performance
  21. Hotels, lodges, bed and breakfast, time share facilities, resorts and guest houses
  22. Conferencing, dining, entertainment and bar facilities
  23. International sports, arts and cultural events
  24. Professional services (cleaning and security) within regulated restricted sectors (e.g.: hospitality)
  25. Retails activities within regulated restricted sectors (e.g.: hospitality)
  26. Other services activities within regulated restricted sectors (e.g.: hospitality)

We are still working through some issues related to previous claims, but I think that future claims should be resolved quite quickly as systems have been improved.

If you require more information with regard to these claims.  Please contact the office for more information with regard to TERS claims.

Increased UIF Contributions

The Good News in the Budget Speech and amended tax regulations published on Wednesday 24 February 2021 was that our PAYE tax will be marginally less with effect from 1 March 2021 as the tax parameters have been changed a little and the rebates we can claim have been increased slightly.

However, the Bad News is that the contribution to the Unemployment Insurance Fund have at last been adjusted to the benefit level.

In April 2017, the Unemployment Insurance Fund increased the maximum level for benefits to R17 711-58 however, the responsibility for increasing contributions to match this with an increase in the contribution.  This responsibility lay with the Finance Minister and due to changes in Ministry at that time, no regulation in this regard was passed.

With effect from 1 March 2021 this will be corrected.  This means that while everyone still contributes 1% of salary and companies are required to match this, those employees whose earnings are above R14 872-00 will contribute more to UIF.  The maximum contribution level has now been set at R177.12.

What does this mean:

Example 1:  Employee earning R16 000-00 per month.
Tax Rate 2020R1 633.58UIF 2020R148.72Difference in earningsR14 217.70
Tax Rate 2021R1 571.00UIF 2020R160.00Difference in earningsR14 269.00
Tax Rate DifferenceR    62.58UIF Difference-R 11.28 R      51.30
Example 2: Employee earning R25 000-00 per month
Tax Rate 2020R3 880.83UIF 2020R148.72Difference in earningsR20 970.45
Tax Rate 2021R3 749.17UIF 2020R177.12Difference in earningsR21 073.71
Tax Rate DifferenceR   131.66UIF Difference-R 28.40 R     103.26

It seems the Minister gives with one hand and takes away with the other.  The benefit level remains unchanged.

Increased Earnings Threshold 2021

On 8 February 2021, the Minister of Labour and Employment passed new regulations increasing the earnings threshold from R205 433.30 per annum to R211 596.30.  The new threshold will be effective from 1 March 2021.

In the Regulations, earnings are defined as: the regular annual remuneration before deductions, i.e. PAYE, pension or provident fund, medical aid and similar payments, but excluding employer contributions to these benefits.  The regulations also state that transport allowances received, achievement awards and payments for overtime worked shall not be regarded as remuneration.

The earnings threshold has increased by 3% from R17 119,44 per month (basic salary) to R17 633.03.  This threshold is not to be confused with the maximum benefit threshold for UIF which remains R17 712.00.

Why is the earnings threshold important?

Employees who earn below the threshold are more protected by the labour laws than those that earn more than the threshold.  This threshold forms part of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, (section 6.3) which states:

6.3    The Minister must, on the advice of the Commission, make a determination that excludes the application of this Chapter or any provision of it to any category of employee earning in excess of an amount stated in that determination.

This comes from the part of the act that deals with the Regulation of Working Time.  It states that the employees earning more that the earnings threshold are excluded from certain rights in terms of this Act.  These are:

Clause 9: Ordinary hours of work

This means that people earing above the threshold can have variable hours whereas those below the threshold should have defined hours of work.

Clause 10. Overtime

Employees earning above the threshold are not entitled to overtime pay or time off in lieu of overtime worked.

Clause 11. Compressed working week

The rules around working a compressed working week are not applicable to employees earning above the threshold (i.e., working a 12-hour day without overtime being paid). Typically, staff working in this manner work 4 days at 12 hours and 3 days off (security industry for example)

Clause 12. Averaging of hours of work

This clause allows overtime worked to be averaged over a three-month period.  Again, these rules do not apply to employee who earn above the threshold.

Clause 14. Meal intervals

Employees earning above the threshold are not entitled to a fixed lunch hour.

Clause 15. Daily and weekly rest period

Employees earning above the threshold are not entitled to the daily rest period or the weekly rest period of 36 hours.

Clause 16. Pay for work on Sundays.

Employees earning above the threshold are not entitled to additional pay (1.5 or double time depending on the nature of the work) when asked to work on a Sunday.

Clause 17(2). Night work

Employees earning above the threshold are not entitled to a shift allowance or transport when working night shift.

Clause 18 (3) Public holidays

Although the act says that employees earning above the threshold are not entitled to additional pay when working on a public holiday, the Public Holiday Act does require pay for all employees who are required to work on a public holiday or time off in lieu.

Labour Relations Act

Amendments to the LRA in 2014 have made reference to the earnings threshold, with specific reference to protections for specific employees.  These are:

  • Temporary Employees employed though a Temporary Employment Service
  • Fixed Term Contract Employees
  • Part Time Employees

Employees in these categories who earn more than the earnings threshold are not protected by the provisions of section 198 of the LRA.  This section of the act is aimed at preventing the abuse of employees who are never given the opportunity to become permanent employees.

In addition to this, the CCMA undertook to assist administratively any employee whose earnings fell below the earnings threshold.  This included:

  • The preparation of dispute documentation
  • The serving of dispute forms to the employer
  • Assistance with collecting awards (the CCMA will pay the sheriff of the court to execute collections)

Over the threshold, employees have to do all of this themselves.

Employment Equity Act

Amendments to the Employment Equity Act also in 2014 makes reference to the earnings threshold in terms of access to the CCMA.  The amendment ruled that the CCMA had jurisdiction to arbitrate sexual harassment matters while other disputes relating to discrimination could be referred to arbitration if the employee earned below the threshold and, unless otherwise agreed, disputes where the employee earns more that the threshold would be referred to the Labour Court.

Access to the Department of Employment and Labour

Perhaps the most problematic provision is that if an employee earns above the threshold the Department of Employment and Labour will not give them access to an inspector if they believe that your employer is not complying with the acts.  The employee would have to use the Labour Court or their own legal representatives to fight for their rights.


Essentially the Earnings threshold is the divide between those employees who have the necessary skills and abilities to negotiate their own working conditions and those who need the full protection to the law to ensure that they are not exploited.

2021 Skills Development Submissions

By submitting your Training Skills Plans to the SETAs, levy paying companies are able to claim up to 20% of the paid Skills Development Levies from SETA for that period as well as an additional Pivotal grant for qualifying companies.

All training reports and training plans are to be submitted to the relevant Seta by the end of April 2021.

Companies who submit training plans and training reports become eligible for additional opportunities which exist for the training and development of both existing employees and the unemployed in order for the employers to gain funding.  These Discretionary grants are in the form of Learnerships, Apprenticeships and approved funding’s as decided by the SETAs in line with their industry strategies.

If you would like Connold and Associates to process your Skills submission to the relevant Seta that you are registered with, please will you contact Tessa Lourens using the form below or by calling 011 452 1707 before 15 March 2021 and we will then assist/ guide you through the submission process.

Contact Form for Tessa Lourens

Minimum Wage Regulations 2021

On 8 February 2021, the Minister of Labour and Employment passed new regulations increasing the minimum wage with effect from 1 March 2021.  As was the case last year, this regulation governs the minimum wages for:

  • All employees who do not fall into specific categories listed below (including casual employees)
  • Farm Workers
  • Domestic Workers
  • Workers employed in Public Works Schemes (cleaning verges Parks, Cemeteries etc.)
  • Learners

The Regulations also provide new minimum wages for

  • Contract Cleaners
  • Employees in the Wholesale and Retail Industries.

The increase in the minimum wage is 4.48% and both the Contract Cleaning and Wholesale and Retail Industries minimum wages have also increased wages by this percentage.  However, there have been substantial increases at the other levels.  See table below:

Minimum Wages 2021

Category of employeeHourly Rate 2020Hourly Rate 2021Increase AmountPercent IncreaseNew Monthly salary (45hrs per week)
Minimum WageR 20.76R 21.69R 0.934.48%R 4 266.30
Farmworkers WageR 18.68R 21.69R 3.0116.11%R 4 226.30
Domestic WorkersR 15.57R 19.09R 3.5222.61%R 3 719.69
Public Work EmployeesR 11.42R 11.93R 0.514.47%R 2 324.56
Contract CleanersR 22.84R 23.87R 1.034.51 %R 4 651.07

Learner Level 1 – 2

0 -120 CreditsR 312.45R 326.51R 14.064.50%R 1 413.79
121 – 240 CreditsR 624.87R 652.99R 28.124.50% R 2 827.45

Learner Level 3

0 -120 CreditsR 312.45R 326.51R 14.064.50%R 1 413.79
121 – 240 CreditsR 558.47R 614.95R 56.4810.1%R 2 662.73
341 – 360 CreditsR 963.38R 1003.73R 40.354.19%R 4 346.15

Learner Level 4

0 -120 CreditsR 312.45R 326.51R 14.064.50%R 1 413.79
121 – 240 CreditsR 624.93R 653.05R 28.124.50%R 2 827.71
341 – 360 CreditsR 963.38R 1006.73R 43.354.50%R 4 359.14
361 – 480 CreditsR 1 405.98R 1 496.25R 90.276.42%R 6 478.76

Learner Level 5 – 8

0 -120 CreditsR 312.45R 326.51R 14.064.50%R 1 413.79
121 – 240 CreditsR 676.93R 707.39R 30.464.50%R 3 063.00
341 – 360 CreditsR 1 012.83R 1 058.41R 45.584.50%R 4 582.92
361 – 480 CreditsR 1 426.85R 1 491.06R 64.214.50%R 6 456.29
481 – 600 CreditsR 1 822.56R 1 904.58R 82.024.50%R 8 246.83

The intention always was to bring domestic workers and farmworkers up to the national minimum wage within a four-to-five-year period, hence the large increase in the minimum level now. 

It is to be noted that there is no requirement to implement an increase if the employee is already earning more than the minimum salary.

New Occupational Health and Safety Measures


Since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, the Department of Labour has issued directives (Consolidated Directions on Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Certain Workplaces), giving guidance on the measures that companies need to take to ensure that their workplaces are as safe as possible and to prevent the transmission of the virus.

On 1st October 2020, a new Directive was published which requires that all companies with more than 50 employees will have to comply with administrative duties which before were only required by companies with more than 500 employees.


Companies have previously had to undertake a risk assessment and to develop a workplace plan to implement the safe return of employees to the workplace. This plan must now include a dispute process to manage the process where there are employees who refuse to return to work because of fears of infection.

Companies with over 50 employees must:

  1. Submit a record of their risk assessment together with a written COVID-19 Occupational Health and Safety Policy to the Department of Employment and Labour by no later than the 21st October 2020.
  2. They must also submit the following data to the National Institute for Occupational Health:
    1. To be submitted once
      1. Each employee’s vulnerability status for serious outcomes of a Covid-19 infection.
    2. To be submitted weekly
      1. Details of the daily symptom screening data
      2. Details of employees who test positive for COVID-19
      3. The number of employees identified as high-risk contacts (and who have been quarantined) as a result of exposure to a worker who has tested positive for Covid-19 and
      4. Details on the post-infection outcomes of those testing positive, including the return to work assessment outcome.
  1. Report employees who display symptoms of Covid-19 and are suspected to have contracted the virus in the workplace to the Compensation Commissioner following the guidelines in the directive on Compensation for Workplace acquired Novel Corona Virus Disease.


If an employee shows symptoms at the workplace, the employer must arrange for the worker to be transported to a public health facility for testing.
The employee is required to self-isolate and exposed employees are required to self-quarantine for 10 days (reduced from 14).


In previous directives there were guidelines of the steps to be taken if an employee refuses to work if circumstances arise which, with reasonable justification, appear to the employee to pose a risk of exposure to Covid-19.
The new directive requires that where the matter cannot be resolved by the safety representative (committee) and the Compliance Officer, the employee must refer it to an inspector within 24 hours and all parties must be informed of the referral.
The inspector is empowered to issue a prohibition notice in terms of section 38 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act if they are of the opinion that the conditions in the workplace threatens the safety of any person.

We were really hoping that the lockdown would be lifted before having to comply with this legislation, but as it has been extended for another month, we will be required to comply. Failure to do so could mean a fine in terms of section 38 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (currently R50 000-00 or one year in prison). We have developed formats for the reporting requirements and have posted all relevant legislation on our website.

Breaking News: TERS (2020/10/01)

Applications for TERS for the period 16 August 2020 to 15 September 2020 opened this morning. 

The UIF fund seems to have been working hard to try and resolve problems experienced in the months to July 2020 and we are trying to resolve issues that occurred in the payout for the July/September period, however, the call center appears to not be operational at this time.

In an announcement today the following was posted on the DOL Website:

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), which has so far disbursed R45-billion (R45 244 060 501.31) in 10 212 116 payments through 902 775 employers, will from Thursday, 1 October 2020 start processing Covid-19 TERS applications for the period covering 16 August to 15 September 2020. 

The payments are part of the government wide basket of services to ensure that workers were not exposed to the worst effects of the pandemic – the lockdown that brought the economy to a halt.

Through these cash disbursements via employers, government, through the Ministry of Employment and Labor, has seen to it that many families who would otherwise not have had anything to eat were shielded from falling into the poverty trap.

“To apply for the September period, employers are required to upload similar documentation that include: signed approval or acceptance letter, bank confirmation letter, proof of payment to employees, and refund to the UIF – if applicable”, said the Acting UIF Commissioner Marsha Bronkhorst. 

Applications will undergo a vetting process with external partners to ascertain the validity of claims before the funds are paid and to ensure that the new controls weed out fraudulent claims.

“Early signs of the new vetting process with external partners show that we are on the right track, as we have been able to pick up potentially fraudulent claims. Payments to these claims have been stopped and have been referred to our Risk Management Unit for further investigation.

“We are also subjecting claims applications by foreign nationals to the Department of Home Affairs to ensure that we pay to authentic and deserving beneficiaries, and we shall immediately start paying these claims upon the completion of the vetting process by Home Affairs,” concluded Bronkhorst. 

It is important to note that Covid-19 TERS claim applications for April and May paid closed on 25 September 2020. Claims for June period will close on 15 October 2020 and July/August claims will close on 30 October 2020.

The extension of the payments was announced by the Minister Thulas Nxesi widening the net of the Covid TERS scheme till the end of the National State of Disaster.

We therefore anticipate an extension of the scheme to at least 15 October 2020.

Breaking News: TERS (2020/09/07)

New Directive extends TERS until the end of the COVID 19 Disaster

The Minister of Employment and Labour published a new Directive today extending the TERS benefit.  This extension in the terms of the directive:

shall be in operation for as long as the declaration of the COVID-19, in terms of the National Disaster Management Act, 2002(Act No. 57 of 2002), as a national disaster subsists or is withdrawn by the Minister, whichever comes first.”

This means that there is a further extension until at least 15 September (the date the Disaster Management Act has been extended to.

Having said that, no one to our knowledge has received the July/August TERS yet.

There has also been a clarification in a document called Extension Direction Communication.  The definition of who TERS can be applied for has had the following added to it.

  1. TERS can be applied for when vulnerable employees are unable to return to work, i.e. they have comorbidities or health issues which place them at a higher risk of complication or death should they contract the virus
  2. Employers can apply if:
    • They are not permitted to commence operations either partially or fully by the Regulations
    • They are unable to make arrangements for vulnerable employees to work from home
    • They are unable to fully employ staff because of economic, technological, structural, or similar needs caused by compliance to regulations
    • They are required to limit the number of employees at the workplace through rostering, staggering of working hours, short time or the introduction of shift systems and the temporary reduction in the employee’s ordinary remuneration.

The Directive has been back dated to 15 August 2020.

We are not sure when applications will open, but we have been warned that the DOL is intending to close applications for previous months.