Laid-off workers, OFWs to get benefits under new SSS charter

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2019 09:27 PM

MANILA - Laid-off workers will soon be able to claim unemployment benefits under the new law amending the charter of the Social Security System (SSS). 

Under the SSS Act of 2019 signed earlier this month by President Rodrigo Duterte, workers who involuntarily lose their jobs are entitled to unemployment insurance which is equal to half of their last salary.

The jobless benefit will be paid for 2 months while the laid-off SSS member looks for a new job, and can only be claimed once very 3 years. 

To qualify for the jobless insurance, an SSS member should have paid at least 36 months of contributions, 12 months of which should be in the 18-month period immediately preceding the involuntary unemployment or separation.

Senator Richard Gordon, one of the authors of the bill, said the law also provides for compulsory coverage of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) below 60 years old. 

The measure is expected to expand the number of OFWs with SSS coverage to 2.5 million from the current 500,000. 

Contribution rates will also be hiked from 11 percent to 15 percent by 2025, to fund the new benefits, including the additional P1,000 pension benefit promised by Duterte. 

"Magsa-sacrifice ang mga members ngayon by contributing more but they will enjoy a dignified retirement later on. When they retire, they won’t get a pittance. They will retire with a measure of prosperity," Gordon said in a statement. 

Left-leaning groups, meanwhile, have criticized the new SSS law saying the higher contribution rate will further reduce workers' take-home pay. 

“Isinasangkalan ng bagong SSS charter ang kakarampot na sahod ng mga manggagawa para pahabain umano ang buhay ng pondo ng SSS, sa halip na ayusin ang koleksyon nito at bawasan ang bonuses ng mga board members nito,” said Gabriel party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas. 

(The new SSS charter puts the meager income of workers on the chopping board, purportedly to lengthen the fund life of the SSS, instead of improving collections and cutting the bonuses of its board members.) 

SSS chairman and CEO Emmanuel Dooc earlier said that even with the higher contribution rate, the pension fund would still find it difficult to give the P1,000 additional pension benefit promised by Duterte.