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SSS earmarks P1.2 billion for workers to be laid off due to virus impact
Finance Secretary and concurrent Social Security Commission chairman Carlos Dominguez said he was informed by SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Cruz Ignacio, the pension fund manager, would shell out the entire amount under a worst-case scenario wherein as many as 60,000 of its premium-paying members lose their jobs in the months ahead.
STAR/ File

SSS earmarks P1.2 billion for workers to be laid off due to virus impact

Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - March 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Social Security System (SSS) has earmarked as much as P1.2 billion to pay unemployment benefits to workers who are projected to lose their jobs amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus disease 2019 COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Secretary and concurrent Social Security Commission chairman Carlos Dominguez said he was informed by SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Cruz Ignacio, the pension fund manager, would shell out the entire amount under a worst-case scenario wherein as many as 60,000 of its premium-paying members lose their jobs in the months ahead.

SSS premium-paying members can avail of unemployment benefits equivalent to a half of their average monthly salary credit (AMSC) for a maximum of two months if they are displaced because of redundancy, installation of labor-saving devices, retrenchment, closure or cessation of operation, and disease or illness.

To be entitled, applying members should have paid the requisite minimum number of monthly contributions for three years to qualify for this unemployment benefit, 12 of which should have been made in the last 18 months.

The unemployment benefit is one of the landmark provisions of Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) sees a drop in employment of 60,000 jobs to 30,000.

Dominguez said he expects affected workers mostly in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries, and, to some extent, those in the manufacturing sector to apply for the unemployment benefit.

“This is going to affect mainly the tourism industry, the hotels and airlines. The job displacement will probably last six months,” Dominguez said during his meeting with SSS officials last Wednesday.

The Finance Secretary said there might be some manufacturing jobs that are going to be affected because of the disruptions in the supply chain.

“But I just got a message today that imports from China are already picking up,” he said.

For his part, SSS senior vice president and chief actuary Edgar Cruz said the SSS is ready, at the minimum, to provide P660 million for the unemployment benefits of affected SSS members if 30,000 workers are displaced.

The average unemployment benefit that qualified members receive is about P11,000 with a maximum cash benefit of P20,000.

Cruz said with the current cash position of the SSS at P21 billion, it can well afford to pay unemployment benefits, given that P660 million is just a fraction of the more than P16 billion that SSS paid monthly for members’ pensions in 2019.

CARLOS DOMINGUEZ S SSS
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