SSS ready to aid workers in case of virus-induced firm layoffs, closures

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Social Security System (SSS) is ready to pay benefits to workers who may lose their jobs due to possible layoffs in, or closures of, private companies triggered by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Thursday.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the SSS is prepared to pay up to P1.2 billion in unemployment benefits to some 30,000 to 60,000 employees projected to lose their jobs in private companies hit by the economic fallout from the fast-spreading coronavirus disease.

Dominguez said he expects affected workers from tourism, airline and hotel industries, as well as in manufacturing sector to apply for the benefit.

“The estimate of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is that there will be a drop in employment of 30,000 to 60,000 jobs. This is going to affect mainly the tourism industry, the hotels and airlines. The job displacement will probably last six months,” he said during his meeting Wednesday (March 11) with SSS officials.

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 qualify for the benefit, applicants should have paid the requisite minimum number of monthly contributions for three years, 12 of which should have been made in the last 18 months.

The average unemployment benefit that qualified members may receive is about P11,000, according to SSS senior vice president and chief actuary Edgar Cruz.

The unemployment benefit is one of the landmark provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018.

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