Bill filed to triple unemployment insurance for laid-off workers

MANILA, Feb 8 (Mabuhay) — Amid the widespread job losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel wants to triple the amount of unemployment insurance that laid off workers can claim from the Social Security System (SSS).

Under Pimentel’s House Bill 8594, displaced workers can claim unemployment benefits equal to 50 percent of their monthly salary for a maximum of six months granted thru a one-time payment.

At present, the subsidy is equal to 50 percent of the monthly salary for a maximum of two months.

“Our bill seeks to give more meaning to social security, and to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution for the State to afford full protection to labor,” Pimentel said in a news release on Sunday. “We have to guarantee households income security and safeguard them against distress when breadwinners lose their jobs through no fault of their own.”

Once Pimentel’s bill is enacted, a displaced worker that used to earn PHP15,000 per month can claim PHP45,000 in unemployment benefits. At present, the same worker can claim only PHP15,000.

The economy continues to shed jobs on account of the Covid-19 crisis.

Last week alone, PAL Holdings Inc., in a regulatory disclosure to the stock exchange, confirmed reports that flag carrier Philippine Airlines is laying off 2,100 employees or 35 percent of its workforce by mid-March.

Pimentel’s bill seeks to amend Republic Act 11199, or the Social Security Act of 2018.

Under the law, the unemployment insurance is a cash grant and not a loan. It does not have to be repaid.

The benefit is paid to covered employees, including household staff and overseas Filipino workers, who lost their jobs due to retrenchment or downsizing, closure or cessation of operation, installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy or similar reasons.

SSS members may avail of the benefit as long as they have paid at least 36 monthly contributions, 12 months of which should be in the 18-month period immediately preceding the month of involuntary separation. (MNS)

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